Scott Barney was drafted 29th overall by the Kings in
1997. He was one of the Kings’ top
prospects before missing three years with a back injury. Barney is in the second year of his
comeback, now playing with the AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs.
HF: You had an impressive season in 1997-98 and were scoring almost a goal a
game in 1998-99. You then suffered what was thought to be a career ending back
injury. How did the injury happen?
SB: It’s a long story. The pain started in juniors. I was sore but played
through the pain. In the 1998-99 season after my team was eliminated from the
playoffs, the Kings sent me to Springfield to play in the AHL. I woke up daily
in pain and it kept getting worse. The Kings flew me out to a back specialist
in LA. It didn’t help. It got to the point were I couldn’t even walk. I
eventually had two surgeries that didn’t help at all. They just didn’t take. It
was a very frustrating time for me. I saw a lot of specialists. Dr. Dave
Campbell in Montreal and Dr. Dave Wright in Toronto helped me the most. Dr.
Campbell discovered an alignment problem. Both doctors showed me different
approaches of doing exercises, which helped the most. I also still go to a
chiropractor, but much less often now than before.
HF: You were out of hockey for three years. Was there ever a time you thought
about hanging up the skates once and for all?
SB: I did start taking classes at the university. But my dream was always to
play hockey or be involved in hockey, I thought a lot about coaching. Retirement
was there in the back of my head. Once I starting getting better, I didn’t want
to look back just concentrate on the future and get my career back on track. It
was tough at first, but it’s great to be back.
HF: Describe your rehab.
SB: Most exercises didn’t help. I’d feel good for 10 or 20 minutes and the pain
would come right back. The less active I was the stiffer I was getting. It was
tough, it hurt to work out, but if I didn’t I felt worse. I was frustrated. I
learned the main thing was stretching and stomach exercises. Mostly lower ab
and leg strengthening. Stretching and staying loose is very important with a
back injury and it is something I still focus on. I still can’t do squats to
build the leg strength, and I still have to do a few things differently.
HF: During the rehab process was there one person that helped you the most?
SB: My girlfriend and my family and friends. They kept me very positive and
they were very supportive. They helped me to never lose hope. It was tough to
watch hockey during that time. They kept me from getting too frustrated and
really helped me to come back.
HF: How did the Kings organization help you?
SB: They’ve really been incredible. They flew me to every doctor referral. They
were behind me 100 percent. Dave Taylor and the entire organization were all
first class. It really meant a lot to me. I knew they cared more about me the
person than me the athlete. When I was ready to play again I got offers from
other teams to tryout. But I chose LA because they stuck by me those three
years and their loyalty led me to try out there first.
HF: What was going through your mind just before the first training camp of
SB: I wanted to go out and work hard and prove to them and myself that I could
still do it. I really wanted to work hard and compete and see what I had and
what I could do. I know the competition would be high and I wanted to prove
HF: When you were playing your first few games with the Monarchs last year,
what was going through your mind? Were you worried about getting hurt again?
SB: I was just happy to be back. I didn’t think about my back, I was just
grateful to be playing again. I just thought about what I have to do during the
game and do what I can to help the team. I don’t think about the back during
the game, I just concentrate on doing my job.
HF: You missed some games late last year with a concussion. What was going
through your mind then?
SB: It was frustrating. I missed three years and then I got the concussion. I
knew if I can come back from three years, then three weeks would be nothing.
And it really wasn’t.
HF: How excited were you when the Kings called you up for those five games last
SB: It was a dream come true. It was a great experience. Hopefully I can stay a
little longer next time and make it a permanent thing. I really learned a lot
in my short time up there.
Were the Kings players receptive?
Scott Barney: They were great. They are all great guys. Last year the Kings had
a lot of injuries and everyone who got called up said the same thing. They are
really great guys and they’ll do what they can to help you. Ian Laperriere was
great to me. He keeps you loose before the game. He was very encouraging and
just told me to do my best.
HF: How different was the NHL style of hockey than the AHL or juniors?
SB: It’s the best league in the world, faster and stronger and you have to work
hard and compete each and every shift. Nothing comes easy. I think it is a
bigger step from the juniors to the AHL than the AHL to the NHL. A lot of the
players in the AHL have tasted the NHL and work a lot harder. They all want to
get back to the NHL.
HF: How has your game changed since the injury?
SB: I am trying to play the same way I did before the injury. I can do some of
the things I used to do. Some things aren’t what they used to be. I try to play
the same way each shift. Work hard, really give it my all and see what happens.
I was never the most physical player but I still play as physical as I did
before. I am playing more physical this season than last season. I am a lot
HF Is there a current or former NHL player that you model your game after?
SB: Not really. My favorite player is Mario Lemieux. I’d like to say I try to
play like him (laughs). He was always my favorite player growing up.
HF: How does your style of play fit into the Kings system?
SB: I fit in well. Two guys forecheck with one guy back almost like the trap.
Everywhere you go they play different. I have been having success this year,
hopefully it continues. You have to change your game for each line you play on,
scoring, energy or stopper. Also depending on what the other team is doing and
the game plan of your team.
HF: Have the Kings staff told you what you need to do to make it to the NHL?
SB: I think I need to work on my skating and compete every shift and every
game. Everyone competes so hard. One night off really makes a big difference. I
try to play strong along the board and drive the puck to the net.
HF: Has it been disappointing that John Tripp, Jared Smithson, and Noah Clark
have been called up and not you?
SB: A little, it’s really good for them. They are good guys and deserve a
chance. It’s part of the game and part of the business. If you let it get you
down, it affects your game. I just worry about my game and do what I can to
help the Monarchs win. I am really glad that Noah got called up. He is a great
guy and a great player. Noah is a great skater, he is strong on the puck and
plays in key situations both on the powerplay and penalty kill. I wish him luck
in LA. Hopefully he can stay up there.
HF: You had an impressive return last year, and this year you are leading the
Monarchs in goals and are among the team leaders in points. Are you doing
SB: I am a lot more confident and a lot stronger this year, especially in front
of the net. I am winning more battles, competing harder and playing a better
all around game. It also helps to play with Steve Kelly and Pavel Rosa. We play
well together, I try to get them the puck and go to the net and win all my
battles in front of the net and look for rebounds or scoring chances. I just
try to play hard along the boards and crash the net.
HF: You have played center and wing in your career. Do you prefer one position?
SB: I like playing on the wing better. I really like left wing a lot. I have
more options with the puck. It really doesn’t matter to me. I just want to help
the team and it helps the team if I am versatile.
HF: Who plays on your line in Manchester?
SB: I played a lot with Steve Kelly and Pavel Rosa. I also play with Brad
Church with Steve Kelly. I played with Yanick Lehoux and Noah Clarke last week.
The lines are mixed up a lot.
HF: Are there any other Kings prospects that impress you?
SB: Pavel Rosa and Steve Kelly, those two are very impressive. Tim Gleason is a
very good player. He is very strong defensively.