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May 05, 2016

Bill Berg

Bill Berg was an enthusiastic utility player. Berg was a character player who developed into a superb checker. With unparalleled intensity, Berg was a forechecker and penalty killer. Unfortunately for Berg he lacked the finishing skills to develop into anything more than a role player.

Berg was the New York Islanders' 3rd choice, 59th overall in the 1986 Entry Draft. The St. Catherines native was groomed with the OHL's legendary Toronto Marlboros. Berg actually played defense all his life and in junior. It wasn't until his second year in the New York Islanders minor league system that he was moved up to left wing, a move which paid immediate dividends for both the Springfield Indians and Berg.

Aside from a 7 game stint in 1988-89, Berg finally got his shot at the NHL in 1990-91 when he played in 78 games for the Isles, recording 9 goals and 14 assists for 23 points.

1991-92 was an injury plagued year for Berg, and after just 22 games in 1992-93, Berg was placed on waivers by the Islanders and on December 3, 1992 he was claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The acquisition caught Leafs head coach Pat Burns by surprise.

"Bill Berg? I wouldn't know who Bill Berg was if I ran him over with my car in a parking lot!"

Burns quickly learned who Bill Berg was, and became one of his favorite players because of his steady defensive play. Aside from his reckless forechecking and respected tenacity, Berg also chipped in with 7 goals and 15 points in addition to the 6 goals and 9 points he scored earlier that season with the Isles.

After a strong 1993-94 campaign that saw Berg play 83 games with 8 goals and 11 assists, Berge was felled by a serious knee injury in the lockout shortened 1994-95 campaign. 1995-96 saw a coaching change and resulted in less ice time for Berg, who by mid season was traded to the New York Rangers for tough guy Nick Kypreos.

Berg had a strong 1996-97 season but struggled in 1997-98, scoring just once and was -15. In 1998-99 he played one final season with the Ottawa Senators before retiring and getting into financial market analysis.

Bill was the ultimate team player, and a superb checker when healthy. He was highly respected by his teammates and by players and media members around the league.

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