October 08, 2007

Doug Berry

Doug Berry was a useless hockey player. That's not my assessment, but the assessment of his NHL coach.

Doug was playing with the Colorado Rockies during the tenure of Don Cherry's coaching range. "Grapes" said the following about Berry in his autobiography:

"Apart from being a useless hockey player, the kid had a distorted idea about the work ethic; he didn't think it existed!"

Berry was a member of the Colorado Rockies more because of his tie-ins with the city of Denver. Berry starred at the University of Denver for 3 seasons from 1975 through 1978. The Rockies manager Ray Miron selected the local star 38th overall in the 1977 Entry Draft.

Berry signed with Glen Sather's Edmonton Oilers when he turned pro in 1978, but once again became Colorado property when the WHA and NHL merged in 1979. Berry played most of the next season and a half in Denver, much to Cherry's chagrin.

"I was rapidly losing points with Miron," recollected Cherry "and I would lose still more watching a center named Doug Berry. After the workout I walked into Miron's office. 'This guy Berry, what's he doing here? He can't skate, he can't shoot, and he can't hit!' "

Miron refused to send Berry to the minors because he feared that Glen Sather would pluck him off of the waiver list. So the Rockies forced Cherry to keep using a player he really didn't want.

Berry played in 121 games, scoring 10 career goals and 33 assists for 43 points, before his poor play under Cherry finally saw him demoted to the minors. His stay in the minors was short though as he opted to join a German team. Berry's game wasn't suited for the North American pro ranks, but Berry enjoyed a long career in Europe. He retired in 1992 after 10 years over seas, 9 of which were spent in Germany.

By the way, I don't believe Cherry's assessment that Doug Berry could not skate. Skating was a prerequisite of any player of interest for Glen Sather, especially back in those days. Plus, Sather also showed interest in Doug's brother Ken. I never saw Doug Berry but I saw Ken Berry with Edmonton, Vancouver and the Canadian national team. He could really motor around the ice, and I bet Doug could too.

For a better understanding of how good Doug Berry was at the University of Denver, check out Berry's profile at LetsGoDU hockey blog.

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