Former Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Cam Barker has officially announced his retirement from professional hockey – playing that is. Although calling it quits on the ice, the 35-year-old Winnipeg product will not be leaving the game entirely.
2021-22 will see Barker serve as a member of the British Columbia Hockey League’s Penticton Vees’ coaching staff in an assistant coaching role. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound offensive defenceman will help manage the blueline in a league he never actually suited up in.
Growing up in Manitoba’s capital, Barker played his AAA hockey with the Winnipeg Monarchs, before dressing for two seasons in the Central Canada Junior Hockey League with the Cornwall Colts and the Gloucester Rangers. He was drafted third overall by the Blackhawks in 2004 and earned a spot on the team in 2006, following the completion of his four-year WHL career with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Despite his offensive prowess, Barker was never quite able to cement his place on the blueline for the full duration of an NHL season. Often bouncing between the Hawks and their American League affiliate, Barker ultimately landed in Minnesota, before short stints with Canadian clubs Edmonton and Vancouver from 2011-13.
Barker ended up playing 310 NHL contests and putting up nearly 100 points, but narrowly missed out on Chicago’s first of three Stanley Cups beginning in 2010. He has an estimated career earnings of $12 million at the NHL level.
He left North America for the 2013-14 season and found himself serving as somewhat of a regular within Russia’s KHL over the next five seasons split between Barys Astana and Slovan Bratislava. He most recently suited up for two years with the Rouen Dragons of France’s Synerglace Ligue Magnus. He was the captain of the team that went on to win the French Championship in 2020-21.
The two-time World Junior Hockey Championship gold medalist and Spengler Cup winner will now put his coaching skills to the test, in hopes of helping the Vees continue with what was a promising 2020-21 season in the Penticton Pod, where the team went 18-1-1 through 20 games for the best record across the league.