Tyson Barrie insists there are a lot of differences between him and his rather famous father, but one thing the two certainly have in common is an ability to produce points – at least at the Western League level.
Barrie, who goes into Friday night’s WHL games tied for the lead among defensemen in scoring, is the 17-year-old son of Len Barrie, the former NHLer who is now making headlines as the co-owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, the younger Barrie has a shot at going in the first round of next June’s NHL entry draft.
“I think he’s a one-of-a-kind personality,” Tyson said of his father. “I tend to be a little more laid back and maybe not quite as in-your-face.”
Although Len scored only 19 goals and 64 points in 184 games as an NHL player, he put up 85 goals and 185 points for the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL in his overage season in 1989-90. That Kamloops team, which included defensemen Darryl Sydor and Scott Niedermayer and was coached by Ken Hitchcock, won the league title but was a bust at the Memorial Cup.
Despite the differences in personality, there is little doubt Tyson has inherited his father’s offensive bent. Tyson’s just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds and sometimes has a little difficulty with the defensive side of the game. Last season with the Kelowna Rockets, Barrie’s defense partner was Toronto Maple Leafs first round pick Luke Schenn and Schenn was definitely the defensive conscience of the tandem.
“I think Luke Schenn owes Tyson Barrie some of his signing bonus money,” cracked one NHL scout, “because Barrie allowed Schenn to show what a good defensive defenseman he was last season.”
After scoring nine goals and 43 points last season, Barrie has two goals and 11 points in 11 games this season.
“I think most people would see me as an offensive defenseman,” Tyson Barrie said. “That’s the way I’ve played my whole life, that’s how I played, but I’m really working on developing my defensive side of the game. I’m not the biggest guy out there so I try to contain guys more than put them through the boards, but if the hit is there, I’ll take it.”
Tyson played his early hockey in places such as Los Angeles, Florida and Germany while his father played pro. But Len retired when Tyson was 10 and settled in Victoria, B.C., where Tyson played most of his minor hockey while being coached by his father.
“When I was younger I always played forward, but I was not in the greatest shape, you could say,” Tyson said. “I was kind of chunky and I wasn’t very fast, so I went back on defense and it just went from there.”
There’s little doubt the younger Barrie will have to refine his defensive game if he hopes to go anywhere near the first round of the draft. Tyson said he isn’t thinking about the possibility of being taken by the team his father now co-owns.
“I’d love to play for my dad, but at this point it’s just a bonus if I get to play for anybody,” Tyson said. “Tampa has been struggling lately, but hopefully they can turn it around.”
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.