A native of Vyskov, Czech Republic, Michal Barinka started playing for Budejovice in the Czech league in 1999. His job was to be a steady stay-at-home defenseman due to his size and solid defensive game. He was a good competitor, working his way up through the various Budejovice teams. He was out for a two-month period in 2001-02 after undergoing an operation on his spleen, but recovered fully. Due to his health issues, Barinka chose not to opt into the 2002 draft. Barinka ascended the pecking order on Budejovice in just under two years, starting as a No. 6-7 guy and ending the 2002-03 season as the team’s No. 1 defenseman. That climb resulted in the Chicago Blackhawks selecting the blueliner in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, 59th overall. Barinka became a member of the Ottawa Senators when his rights were traded along with fellow prospect Josh Hennessy and Tom Preissing in the Martin Havlat deal.
2003-04: In a whirlwind season, Barinka made his AHL, NHL and World Junior Championship debuts. He racked up 80 penalty minutes and six points in 40 games with the Admirals and joined the Blackhawks for nine games in mid-March. In his first NHL game, Barinka recorded an assist and one minor penalty.
2004-05: Barinka continued to make the adjustment to the North American game. He scored 11 points in 59 games for the Norfolk Admirals before going down with a sprained knee ligament that kept him out the rest of the season.
2005-06: Barinka finaly received an extended look in the NHL, playing 25 games for the Blackhawks and recording 20 penalty minutes as well as picking up an assist. The rest of the season was spent with Norfolk where he registered 12 points and 85 penalty minutes in 54 games.
2006-07: After arriving in Ottawa, Barinka expected to make the NHL squad but failed to earn a spot. He was assigned to Binghamton and played 17 games there before returning to Czech Republic. He spent some time with Vitkovice in the Czech League and then played for Bern in the Swiss-A league. His best performance came at the 2007 World Championships where he suited up for the Czech squad and tallied 3 points in 7 games.
Barinka has a great size skill ratio, and is solid both in the corners and in clearing his front. He is a good skater with impressive strength, agility and balance and takes advantage of his assets in one-on-one situations. On his way up, he initially played a very safe game, but as his role increased, he got away from that style and either played too casually or tried to over-extend his role with low percentage passes and erratic shots that ended as giveaways. Barinka has the ability to be a very good passer, but so far there are questions about his decision-making and overall game sense. Two serious injuries in the past three years have also raised further questions about his durability.
Guilty of trying to impress too much, Barinka needs to be more of a banger while concentrating on his strengths and keeping it simple if he hopes to make it in the NHL. Having left Binghamton, the Ottawa Senators placed him under suspension, which is still in effect for the 2007-08 season. It is expected that he will remain in Europe for another season.