Hawks add Berard for mobility

Updated: October 31, 2003, 8:01 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Chicago Blackhawks signed free-agent defenseman Bryan Berard on Friday.

Berard signed a one-year deal worth $2.15 million, reports ESPN's Darren Pang. Because the deal is more than $2,008,000 -- 80 percent of the $2.51 awarded by an arbitrator this summer -- the Boston Bruins, Berard's former team, did not have the right to match.

"We felt we needed to improve our defense and Bryan Berard certainly does that for our team," Hawks GM and senior vice president Bob Pulford said in the statement. "He's a big, strong kid who can skate and move the puck. He definitely makes us a better team."

Berard, 26, was taken by the Ottawa Senators as the No. 1 pick in the 1995 draft. He played in 80 games with the Bruins last season, collecting 10 goals and 28 assists.

"Bryan Berard is a big, strong defenseman who is one of the most mobile defenseman in the National Hockey League," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said in the statement. "We certainly feel he is a big addition to our team."

Berard won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year in the 1996-97 season, in which he scored eight goals and recorded 40 assists in 80 games.

The Blackhawks will be the fifth team Berard has played for in his career. He began his career playing two seasons with the Islanders, who traded Wade Redden for him after the draft. Berard then played for the Toronto Maple Leafs for parts of two seasons, signed with the New York Rangers for the 2001-02 season and then joined the Bruins for the 2002-03 season.

While with Toronto, in March 2000, Berard was accidentally struck in the eye by a stick. The injury sidelined him for the remainder of that season and all of 2000-01.

Berard played in his 400th career game and recorded his 200th career NHL point last season with the Bruins.