Bill Berg

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Before there was Aki, there was Bill.

I spent way, way too much time this morning (and even into yesterday night) debating just who should be the LotD for tonight's momentous game against the Islanders.  Friend of the site (meaning the restraining order has lapsed) Alyn McCauley was in the lead for a stretch, Travis Green made a late charge for his series-winner in '02, then I happened on a Bill Berg interview and it all snapped into place.

Then, of course, I clued in that this is Monday and it's supposed to be '84-85 day today. 

Tough.

And, beautiful segue that that is, Bill Berg WAS tough.  Tough to play against, anyway, plus a guy who would take a lot of punishment while driving the opposition to distraction.

Pat Burns made the great quote when Berg was picked up from the Islanders (tie-in!) that he wouldn't know Bill Berg if he ran him over with his car.  We all knew him pretty soon, though.  Bill would make up 1/3 of what might be the best "grind" line I've seen with the Leafs.  Berg, Osborne and Zezel could work you to death along the boards, draw you into a penalty or five, and bring just enough offense to keep themselves on the ice when it mattered.

(Note - Bill shouldn't feel that bad about the cark thing - Burns even got Doug Gilmour's name wrong in his first presser.  He called him "Darryl.")

I'm not sure why Bill was available on waivers in December of 1992.  He'd actually been scoring goals at the best clip of his career to that point.  He'd scored 9 as a rookie and then 5 in 47 games as a sophmore.  Here in '92-93, he'd already potted 6 and seemed to be contributing.  I actually remember people wondering just where all this offense had come from.  The Isles' loss was the Leafs' gain, I guess.  Bill would add another 7 in a Leafs uniform to establish a career high.

The grind line was just as good in '93-94, but before '94-95 (what little there was of it) got underway, Zezel and Osborne would both be gone - Zezel to the Stars as part of the Craig signing, Ozzy to the Rangers as a free agent.  Berg would head to the Rangers himself a year later, bringing Nick Kypreos in return.

Not the biggest name of all, but a big help all the same - Bill Berg.


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The interview



 

Bill Berg back for a ceremonial faceoff:

Bill's stats:

 1982-83  Beamsville Blades  OHA-C  19   3   5   8   24 
 1983-84  Grimsby Peach Kings  OHA-B  39   5   20   25   107 
 1984-85  Grimsby Peach Kings  OHA-B  42   10   22   32   153 
 1985-86  Toronto Marlboros  OHL  64   3   35   38   143   4   0   0   0   19 
 1985-86  Springfield Indians  AHL  4   1   1   2   4 
 1986-87  Toronto Marlboros  OHL  57   3   15   18   138 
 1987-88  Springfield Indians  AHL  76   6   26   32   148 
 1987-88  Peoria Rivermen  IHL  5   0   1   1   8   7   0   3   3   31 
 1988-89  New York Islanders  NHL  7   1   2   3   10   -2 
 1988-89  Springfield Indians  AHL  69   17   32   49   122 
 1989-90  Springfield Indians  AHL  74   12   42   54   74   15   5   12   17   35 
 1990-91  New York Islanders  NHL  78   9   14   23   67   -3 
 1991-92  New York Islanders  NHL  47   5   9   14   28   -18 
 1991-92  Capital District Islanders  AHL  3   0   2   2   16 
 1992-93  New York Islanders  NHL  22   6   3   9   49   +4 
 1992-93  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  58   7   8   15   54   -1   21   1   1   2   18 
 1993-94  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  83   8   11   19   93   -3   18   1   2   3   10 
 1994-95  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  32   5   1   6   26   -11   7   0   1   1   4 
 1995-96  Toronto Maple Leafs  NHL  23   1   1   2   33   -6 
 1995-96  New York Rangers  NHL  18   2   1   3   8   0   10   1   0   1   0 
 1996-97  New York Rangers  NHL  67   8   6   14   37   +2   3   0   0   0   2 
 1997-98  New York Rangers  NHL  67   1   9   10   55   -15 
 1998-99  Hartford Wolf Pack  AHL  16   4   7   11   23   +11 
 1998-99  Ottawa Senators  NHL  44   2   2   4   28   +4   2   0   0   0   0 
 Leaf Totals  196   21   21   42   206   -21   46   2   4   6   32 
 NHL Totals  546   55   67   122   488   -49   61   3   4   7   34 



- Claimed on waivers by Toronto from NY Islanders, December 3, 1992.
- Traded to NY Rangers by Toronto for Nick Kypreos, February 29, 1996.

- Traded to Ottawa by NY Rangers with NY Rangers' 2nd round choice (later traded to Anaheim - Anaheim selected Jordan Leopold) in 1999 Entry Draft for Stan Neckar, November 27, 1998.



The HHOF take on Bill:

"Left-winger Bill Berg was a superior defensive player and agitator during his decade of NHL service. He was a quick skater who was known throughout the league for finishing his checks and getting under the skin of most opponents.

The native of Beamsville, Ontario played junior with the OHL's Toronto Marlboros. He was chosen 59th overall by the New York Islanders at the 1986 Entry Draft and proceeded to spend the bulk of his first three pro years in the AHL. Beginning in 1990-91 he was a useful grinder and checker for New York.

In December 1992, Berg was claimed on waivers by the Toronto Maple Leafs and quickly formed an outstanding checking line with Peter Zezel and Mark Osborne. The tenacious winger's close checking helped the Leafs reach the semi-finals in 1993 and 1994. He also scored the occasional goal and was a fan favourite for his willingness to play the body.

When Toronto began to slide in 1995-96, Berg was traded to the New York Rangers where he was a useful role player through the 1997-98 season. The veteran needler retired in 1999 after helping the Ottawa Senators finish first in the Northeast Division with 103 points. "

 

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