A week ago, I had a somewhat short yet interesting dispute with Copper and Blue, Derek Zona. Zona wanted Barker cut ahead of Petry and Sutton and while I can’t say I disagree I threw in my opinion on Barker as I wrote “I for one actually think Barker can be a great Oiler”. Then came the challenge.. “In 140 words or less defend your stance on Barker. Either that or write it out on your site”.
I didn’t reply. Thought about writing a piece on Barker but seriously. How do you defend a guy that was cut from the Blackhawks and later bought out from the Wild of all teams (no disrespect to them.. but hey, lets just say they aren’t one of the teams that I admire). Both the Blackhawks and Wild have given up their hope on Barker as his career seem to have hit rock bottom. 5 points last season, bought out and now on a team which is - as Gregor put it, the two-time defending cellar dwellers of the NHL.
Not a spot you’d likely need to perform well now is it? Well, maybe that’s just it. Apart from a great 2008/09-season Barker haven’t done much good at the highest level so I don’t have any figures to point at. But Eminem sung something about this.. one chance, one opportunity.. and if there is one team Barker actually can do well on, it should be the Oilers. Simply because we doesn’t have the most experienced of defensive crop. We lack the qualities Barker (at least once) had. Whitney is a god when it comes to protecting players and making them feel comfortable. And even though I’d put Petry on a pairing with Whitney I would really like to see what Barker could accomplish with our number 6. It does seem more likely that Barker will be paired with Gilbert and that’s not a completely bad thing either. As bad as Gilbert was early on last season, he regained some of his pride and he is one of our best puck moving defenders. I could just see Barker work with either one of Whitney and Gilbert. The newcomer got everything to prove and with the Oilers being a team for the future, who wouldn’t wanna be a part of that? While it may be last chance, a last opportunity. It might be the golden opportunity.
Barker is supposed to be entering his prime as he turned 25 this spring. I’m confident he might hit some lows during the coming season, but something tells me Barker could be a good surprise to Mr. Zona come spring. I ain’t got the numbers to show for it, but you may call it Swedish intuition (and you know Swedes - blonde and dumb), here we go!