Now, with a fresh start patrolling the Edmonton Oilers‘ blue line, Barrie’s back in Toronto for a pair of games against his old club.
Asked to reflect on his time with the Maple Leafs during a Thursday appearance on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Good Show, Barrie was open about some of the adjustments he faced during what was, overall, a bizarre season that included role changes, adjustments, a mid-season coach firing, and a global pandemic.
“I mean, it was such a crazy year altogether — you get the coaching change, and then we start to play well and then the season shuts down for a pandemic. So, it was a bizarre year, to be honest. Very crazy, but I made some great friends,” Barrie said. “Obviously we would’ve liked to have some more success going back, into the bubble.”
Known for his power-play prowess with the Colorado Avalanche, Barrie saw minimal minutes with the man advantage upon his arrival in Toronto, where Morgan Rielly was tasked with that role.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of responsibility left for me on the power play side of it, which is a big part of my game,” Barrie said, referring to a bit of a disconnect between his own expectations of what his role would be and how he was generally used. “So, it was a tough adjustment. I’m used to, you know, the arm goes up and you jump the boards, so that was a bit of an adjustment for the first 25 games or whatever and I obviously I wasn’t having a ton of success. And it was a big year for me, going into free agency, so I was aware of that.”
A mid-season coaching change brought more adjustments, and a resurgence for Barrie — but one that was ultimately cut short when the COVID-19 pandemic cut the season short in March. Asked about that, Barrie acknowledged the hurdles — and ultimately has moved on.
“I think I played pretty well under Keefer and there were some growing pains as far as the whole team trying to change systems and stuff, but I felt we were really good when he took over and my game kind of started to come and I felt more like myself and that was nice to see. But, again, it was too bad the way it ended with the whole season shutting down and then going back in the bubble and not making it past that play-in. I think that could’ve been a good time for some redemption — but, not living in the past,” he explained. “We’re lucky that we get to come and play during this whole thing, so I’m looking forward to the future.”