By Dave Leaderhouse
Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of features on the 12 head coaches in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League that will run every Friday throughout the summer. The intent is to familiarize the fans with those who are in charge of the various clubs as there has been a significant turnover in the last couple of seasons. Often ready to take a backseat to the players, as those are the ones who deserve to be in the spotlight, the coaches and general managers shoulder the responsibility for putting the product on the ice and rightfully deserve credit for making the SJHL one of the premiere Junior “A” leagues in the country.
Hockey has provided Scott Barney many experiences as a player, but his first taste of coaching would have to be ranked as one of the most difficult, yet also one of the most satisfying.
Hired as an assistant coach by the Humboldt Broncos just months after that club experienced the terrible tragedy that saw 16 members perish in a bus crash while en route to a playoff game, Barney then became the interim head coach halfway through the season when Nathan Oystrick and the team suddenly parted ways.
A 14-6-0-1 record to finish out the season got the interim tag removed this offseason and now armed with a three-year contract as head coach and general manager Barney is looking forward to continuing with helping the Broncos team, and the community of Humboldt, recover from the April, 2018, tragedy.
“I definitely learned a lot going through that situation last year,” admits Barney. “I’ve had experience dealing with a lot of things and I know when the players are happy the community is happy. Being embraced by the community is a big thing and I want to grow the team to continue being a big part of the community.”
Broncos’ president Jamie Brockman said in a release at the time of Barney’s signing this summer that the team is proud to have the 40-year-old with the organization for the foreseeable future.
“He demonstrated real passion and humility that we really liked,” said Brockman. “On top of that he is simply a great person. We are excited to see what Scott can do for our organization.”
Barney grew up in southern Ontario and as a 16-year-old was selected in the first round (#9 overall) in the Ontario Hockey League priority draft by the Peterborough Petes. Barney averaged more than a point per game in over 200 games with the Petes and as a result was selected in the second round of the 1997 NHL entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings.
His professional career was delayed for three years when a back injury kept him on the sidelines, but his determination to fulfill a lifelong dream of playing in the NHL was rewarded during the 2002-03 season when he got into five games with the Kings.
Barney played in a total of 27 NHL games with the Kings and Atlanta Thrashers scoring five times and setting up six others and after several years in the American Hockey League he went overseas where he would play for a decade in almost every corner of the world including China, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic among others.
Now that the ice has been broken on the latest stage of his career, Barney is ready to put his stamp on the Broncos.
“I expect a good combination of players working hard and buying into the system,” says Barney on his expectations for the upcoming season. “I want the play to be fast, but also remembering it is a 200-foot game. “
The Broncos weren’t the only hockey body to recognize Barney’s skills this summer as he was selected to be an assistant coach for Team West that compete at the World Junior “A” Challenge in Dawson Creek, B.C., in December.
While the scars from the bus tragedy will always remain for the Broncos franchise and the Humboldt community, Barney is prepared to add to the history of a club that has been one of the most successful in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.