Mark Barberio joined the Colorado Avalanche midseason in 2016-17 after he was claimed on waivers from the Montreal Canadiens on Feb. 2. He went on to play in Colorado's final 34 contests.
Prior to making the jump to the pro ranks, the Montreal native played four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Moncton Wildcats. He was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team during the 2006-07 season and was selected to the 2009-10 Second All-Star Team when his Moncton team won the league championship.
Barberio was drafted in 2008 (152nd overall) by the Tampa Bay Lighting and played with the Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate in Norfolk for three years after finishing up his junior career. During his time in the AHL, Barberio was named to the 2011-12 American Hockey League First All-Star Team and received the Eddie Shore Award, which is given to the league's top defenseman. In that same season, Barberio and the Admirals went on to win the Calder Cup.
The defenseman made his NHL debut with Tampa Bay on April 9, 2013, against the Ottawa Senators. In 193 career games with the Lightning, Canadiens and Avalanche, Barberio has registered 40 points (10 goals and 30 assists).
ColoradoAvalanche.com talked with Barberio about his hockey career, hobbies and family.
How did you start playing hockey?
"When I was 4 years old I started skating and then my dad gave me my first hockey stick, and I just kept playing ever since. It's just always been something I love to do. You know when you're a kid, you're dreaming about making it, but you just play hockey. Kind of go through the steps and the levels and next thing you know you're like, 'Oh I'm not that far from the NHL,' and now I get to do it for a living."
What is your favorite part about being a professional athlete?
"The fact that I could play hockey. When I wake up, and I'm not going to a 9-to-5 job. I'm going out and lacing up my skates and get to go play hockey every day. I couldn't ask for much more."
Did you play with any of Avs players before joining the team?
"Not, but I had met a few of the guys before. You know, hockey players tend to bump into each other."
How was your draft experience?
"It was amazing. The draft was at the Scotiabank Place (in Ottawa), which wasn't far from my hometown in Montreal. It was only about an hour and half drive, so I had a lot of family that went. There's only seven rounds and it was getting a little nerve-wracking there after the fifth. I remember I told my mom, 'You know what, I don't think I'm going to get drafted.' And as soon as I said that, Tampa called out my name. Yeah, it was just a really cool experience. It was just one step in my journey, but it was definitely something I'll always remember."
Which NHL teams did you follow the most growing up?
"I liked the Habs. I was a Montreal Canadiens fan, but I liked the Avalanche growing up too. In the late 90's and early 2000's, they had such great teams and they were so much fun to watch. Obviously, I liked Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. They had Rob Blake, Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, I mean the list goes on. They were a lot of fun to watch and it was a lot of fun to watch the rivalry they had with Detroit, so this was always a fun team to watch."
Who was your favorite player growing up?
"My favorite player was Al MacInnis in St. Louis. I just loved his big slap shot. It was always exciting when he was on the ice and when he got a chance to crank his shot."
What activities do you enjoy in the offseason?
"In the summertime, I like to travel a bit. Last summer I went to Europe for the first time, which was a pretty great experience. I got a taste of Europe, and I just loved the lifestyle over there so I think I would like to do that again."
Where did you travel in Europe?
"I went to Amsterdam first. One of my former teammates was getting married in Prague, so the first weekend we got there we had the bachelor party for him in Amsterdam. From there. I went to Bordeaux, France, and I caught a Euro soccer match. I really like soccer, and it was my first chance to catch a game in Europe. It was a quick trip, but I definitely want to see more of Europe."
What would you do if you didn't play hockey?
"It's tough to say. Maybe I would have been a teacher. Maybe like a history teacher or something like that. Or a gym teacher, I guess. I think I would have been a good teacher, but I prefer hockey right now. Maybe after hockey."
What is your favorite snack?
"I like Life Savers Gummies. That's my sweet tooth."
What is your must-bring item for road trips?
"I bring my roller with me. I have like a hand roller just because you get sore muscles. No matter what, that comes with me on trips."
What are your hobbies outside of hockey?
"I used to play a lot of soccer growing up. I still play in the summer, just like pick up, nothing seriously. I like to get out and play and I find it correlates well to hockey. The idea of passing and moving, creating space, I think it kind of helps even though it is obviously a different sport. I think it can help."
Do you have any siblings?
"I have an older sister. She's three years older than me, and she was an athlete too. She played hockey and soccer growing up. We were both pretty athletic growing up. I also played basketball and baseball. Now she lives in Toronto and works for Sephora Canada at the head office. I get free cologne sometimes so that's always nice."
What is the best advice you have been given?
"From my dad, and it was just if you're going to do anything, do it to the best of your ability or don't do it at all. That has kind of stuck with me. If you're doing anything, you might as well give it your all while you're out there or else don't bother showing up. It's pretty common sense, but still, it's stuck with me ever since I was young."