For 16 seasons, Scott Barney has played professional hockey in a career that’s taken him all over the globe.
Yet for the interim head coach of the Humboldt Broncos, his love for hockey had humble beginnings.
“I started when I was three years old skating with my dad,” the 39-year-old former right-winger from Peterborough, Ont. said. “I guess it starts when you’re young and out on the ponds.”
By the time Barney was 14, he was recruited to the North York Rangers, at which point he started to think he could make hockey his career.
For the following four season, Barney played for the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes. In 1997, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings, recruited by scout Al Murray, who’s originally from Regina.
“I got drafted in the second round 29th overall but unfortunately at 20 I came with a back injury and missed three years consecutively and had a bunch of surgery, saw doctors all over the world.”
It was an experience that gave him a different perspective on his chosen sport.
“You know, guys come to the rink every day thinking you can do it forever, but when you got something taken away from you, that maybe never you’ll play again, or didn’t know if I’d be able to lift my kids or be able to have a normal everyday life.”
While injured, Barney spent five or six days a week in rehab. In the third year away, his body mended enough that he had to decide if he wanted to return to hockey. He did.
“It kind of gave me a different feeling for hockey. I really appreciated it, missed being with the guys in the room and made a comeback and then played until I was 38. It taught me a lot of life lessons, missing those three years.”
Even with a come back, there was lots of work at the gym to get to proper condition.
Barney returned to the ice in the 2002-03 season, playing for the LA Kings in the NHL and the Manchester Monarchs in the American Hockey League. He would play two more seasons in the NHL and four more seasons in the AHL.
The 2008-09 season saw his career leave North America. For the next 10 seasons, he play for teams in Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Korea, Italy and China.
“It was a great experience for me and my family,” he said, adding it was an opportunity to embrace different cultures.
“I think that’s helped me make the adjustment here to coaching, be able to come into different communities, open myself up and try to be a part of the community.”
Becoming a coach was something that Barney was interested in.
“Even in my last five or six years, I basically was kind of coaching but didn’t have the title and always trying to help the younger players out or helping with special teams or anything guys want to do either in the gym or after practice,” he said. “I was always kind of a thinker, not a guy who just skated fast around the ice. I think it’s helped me make the transition here to coaching.”
So in the summer of 2018, he decided to apply to the Humboldt Broncos. From that application, he was called up and offered the positions as assistant coach.
“I said I was in right away, so I packed my bags and was here probably three or four days later.”
As the coach of the team, Barney said his role is to be a positive voice for the Broncos and the community as work continues to build a strong team. As for his plan for the team for the rest of the season, he doesn’t plan to change too much.
“We’re just going to move forward. The big thing for me is to be positive of the players in there. They’ve been through enough things and they’ve been great all year, came together as a team.
“Our plan is we want to win. We like to win hockey games and the more you win the more you have fun, right? Are we gonna win every game? Probably not, but we’ll do our best we can in here to give the boys a chance to win every game.”