Former NHL defenseman and 1st overall selection in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft Bryan Berard has been arrested in his home state of Rhode Island after an alleged assault at a bar and restaurant.
According to a report from the Newport Daily News, video from the alleged altercation shows Berard and another man engaged in conversation. The two men break off their chat and hug each other before walking away. The other man then pushes Berard from behind and Berard grabs him by the shirt, which prompts the two to face off in a scrap in the middle off the bar. Police broke up the altercation, but police reports indicate that Berard continued to swing his arms as an officer tried to handcuff him and take him out of the bar. Berard was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. He has a court date set for August 9th.
The Newport Daily News also reports that Berard himself states that the charges are expected to be dropped and that what happened was entirely a misunderstanding. Berard insists that, because he is missing an eye, he did not understand that an officer was trying to arrest him and thought someone else was trying to jump him from behind.
The 46 year old Berard is maybe the biggest 'what if' in NHL history. Chosen 1st overall by the New York Islanders, Berard was a star in his first two NHL seasons. He put up a career high 48 points in his rookie campaign and looked to be a perennial Norris Trophy contender early in his NHL career. Then, in 2000 while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Berard suffered a horrific eye injury that ultimately cost him his vision in his right eye. The injury looked to be career ending, but after seven eye operations Berard was eventually able to return to NHL action but was a shadow of his former self. Berard would finish out his career bouncing from team to team and did end up with 600+ NHL games to his credit, but he was never quite the same player after his tragic eye injury.