Blue Jackets D Berard to consider back surgery

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It does not appear that the Columbus Blue Jackets will be able to count on Bryan Berard for quite awhile.

The veteran defenseman will leave the team to meet with a specialist to explore the option of surgery for his nagging back, the team announced Friday.

Berard, who missed the final 31 games last season and was placed on injured reserve Oct. 4 with a lower back injury, will meet with Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles next week to discuss a course of treatment that could include surgery.

"It is unfortunate that he might have to have another surgery, but we are hoping for a good recovery," Columbus general manager Doug MacLean said. "Right now we are unsure on timetables. The most important thing is to get Bryan healthy."

Last season, his first with the Blue Jackets, Berard, 29, notched 12 goals and 32 points in 44 games, setting a club record for goals by a defenseman.

In 554 career games with the New York Islanders, Toronto, New York Rangers, Boston, Chicago and Columbus, Berard has registered 74 goals and 227 assists for 298 points.