Kirkland's Mark Barberio says it's 'surreal' to play for Habs
It's a situation that Kirkland’s Mark Barberio has always dreamed about, and now it’s a reality – the 25-year-old is playing for his hometown team.
“Up until I was signed by the Lightning I was still a Habs fan and even though I got drafted by Tampa, I was still following the Habs. It’s pretty surreal to be able to put on that jersey and play in front of your family and friends and your fellow Montrealers. It's really cool,” he said.
He was a free agent signing for the team and inked a one-year, two-way contract last summer, but his dream started poorly. After a terrific camp, Barberio was sent to the minors strictly because of the numbers game.
“My goal was to leave a good impression at camp and I felt like I did that. I’ll be honest, I was disappointed to get sent down, which I think every player would be because the goal is to make the big club when you get to camp. But I went down with a good attitude and we have a great group of guys in St. John’s and it’s been a lot of fun to play there,” he said.
Since he was called up at the end of December, Barberio has simply been too good to ignore as he moves up the depth chart ahead of Pateryn and Tinordi.
“He’s pretty steady. You can't forget that guy. He's played over 100 games in the American Hockey League. He was named one the best defenceman in the AHL. With some guys it can take more time but … he's strong defensively, he’s skating really well and he’s moving the puck. We like what he’s able to bring to our hockey team," said Habs head coach Michel Therrien.
Barberio has been so good that the Habs could have a very difficult decision to make. If he plays 10 games he has to go through waivers, and if he does the Habs will surely lose him to a team that needs to pick up a quality defenceman.