Like most youthful hockey players growing up in Western Canada, University of Denver sniper Greg Barber has always dreamt of someday playing in the NHL. Emulating his hockey heroes on the streets of Kelowna, British Columbia, Barber has always been a standout wherever he’s played. If sheer determination was worth its weight in Black & Gold, then tip the scales in his favor for a longstanding future with the Bruins organization.
A standout for the Victoria Salsa of the BCHL, Barber’s superb play in 1998-99 earned him a BCHL all-star appearance and the Boston Bruins 207th overall selection at the 1999 NHL entry draft. Playing alongside Martin Kariya, Barber notched 41 goals and 82 points in 60 games for Victoria that year. When reached at his home on draft day, Barber was both shocked and surprised that his life long dream had taken a positive step forward.
“I wasn’t expecting a call or anything like that,” said Barber in an interview with hockeysfuture. “I was hanging with friends at my house and was not paying any attention to the draft. I was pretty happy. It was unexpected, so I was kind of shocked.”
His play struggled somewhat the following year as a freshman for the University of Denver. Known for being a big goal scorer, his adjustment from the BCHL to the WCHA was tougher on him than anyone had expected. He finished second in rookie scoring for Denver netting 7 goals and 15 points in 40 games. As a sophomore, he had a knack for late-minute heroics as he tallied two third-period game-tying markers. He equaled his freshman totals of 7goals and 8 assists, while playing in five fewer games.
With 12 games under his belt entering his junior season. Barber is merely 2 points shy of equaling his previous college career totals. He’s currently on a 9 game point streak where he’s earned all of his current 13 points on the season. It appears as though Barber has finally adjusted to the speed and pace of the college game. Averaging a goal every other game, he attributes his recent success to working harder and the play of his fellow linemates.
“Kevin Doell’s definitely been a factor. He’s involved in a lot of the plays and the goals I’ve got so far. He’s a good centerman that gets me the puck and he can score and is physical as well. He’s an all around player, and I’m just shooting the puck more.”
And shoot he can do!
If Billy Guerin, who currently leads the NHL with 135 shots could score at Greg Barber’s shooting percentage, he would have 34 goals on the season all ready. Scoring has been a problem for the Bruins this season despite the efforts of management to bolster the offense in the off-season and the more recent trade involving former Bruin holdout Jason Allison. For Barber, scoring goals comes naturally. Sometimes goals can be credited for being at the right place at the right time, other times; you can credit the quality of the chances. In either respect, Barber recognizes that the transition to the NHL will have some similarities to what he’s all ready been through.
“The transition will probably be a lot similar; a lot faster, bigger, and stronger players. With me it’s all about working hard and playing physically. I won’t really do anything. I’ll just try and shoot the puck. Sheer determination will get me there, playing physically and getting my nose dirty.”
Barber has a wicked shot from the high slot and great hands to go with it. He gets a lot of his goals in close where he can best utilize his quick release and accuracy. Barber is a hard worker who is not afraid to battle for the puck against the boards and in the corners. At 6’0”, 200 pounds, he wins a lot of one-on-one battles down low and often makes himself a pest in front of the net.
The biggest weakness in Barber’s game is his skating. Scouts say that he must work on his stride to be more effective, especially when playing the faster and stronger pro game. But for Barber, he points the finger at consistency.
Because Barber has such a good scoring touch, he is able to capitalize on his chances despite his inept stride. The comparisons between Barber and former University of Michigan star Bill Muckalt are accurate, with Muckalt having the edge in scoring in his earlier college years.
If Barber can continue to develop at his current pace in a mold similar to Bill Muckalt, he would be a very welcomed addition to the Bruins. When you look at the depth of the organization, his style of play would just be what the doctor ordered. But for Barber, he believes the Bruins have other pressing needs.
“They need to play John more,” said a laughing Barber who is teammates with Jason Grahame: The younger brother of the Bruins backup netminder.
School is not only about hockey for Greg Barber. He realizes how important his education really is. Following his college career he would love more than anything to make his boyhood dream come true by playing in the NHL, but at the same time he knows that his more immediate goals are his education and helping his Pioneer teammates succeed all the way to the Frozen Four.
“My education is a priority. It’s just as important to me as hockey.”
Let us all hope that the former member of the WCHA all academic squad graduates to the NHL with honors!
Off The Ice Questionnaire
Full name: Greg Barber
Family: 2 brothers
Birthplace: Dawson Creek, BC
Current Residence: Kelowna, BC
Favorite team growing up: Vancouver Canucks
Favorite NHL player: Steve Yzerman
Favorite Movie: Usual Suspects
Favorite Actor: Al Pacino
Favorite TV Show: Friends
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite car: BMW
Stick used: Synergy