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Transcript: Tyson Barrie Media Call

by Staff Writer MapleLeafs /

Maple Leafs defenceman Tyson Barrie spoke with the media via conference call earlier today.

Q. (Mike Zeisberger, You kind of had a tale of two seasons with the Leafs. How difficult was it to adapt early on and then, especially with the coaching change, you seemed to really embrace the system, can you talk a little bit about that? 

TYSON BARRIE: Yeah, I think I'm not sure ever gave enough credit to guys who get traded and have to change their whole lives and move and come into a new team and fit in right away. I think it's a little tougher than I gave credit for. I'm glad I've had the experience to see that firsthand. I think obviously it was a bit of a slow start for me, probably the slowest of my career, so it was disappointing in that way. And then, kind of like you said, once there was the coaching change we just -- I think the style of play maybe fit my game a little better. I think the whole team started to play well after that. I think it was it was tough coming into a market like Toronto where you want to do so well, the fans are expecting a lot and having a slow start. I'm glad I was able to turn things around.

Q. (Mike Zeisberger, Obviously the future of everything surrounding the game is up in the air, but, just your thoughts about what your future might be with the Leafs or wherever being that you're eligible to become a free agent after the season. 

TYSON BARRIE: Yeah, it's a weird time to be heading into free agency, that's for sure. With everything going on and we're still not certain on what's going play out here for the last half of the season and the playoffs. Obviously, that extends into free agency and the draft and all that. It's an odd time but, at this point, I think all I've got to do right now is focus on getting ready to play if we are going to play and take a run with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the playoffs. That's why they brought me in and that would be pretty spectacular so hopefully we get a chance to do that.

Q. (Paul Hendrick, Leafs Nation Network): We've been dealing with all sorts of hypothetical situations in the event of a possible tournament this summer through July and August. Given a healthy Maple Leaf team and just how wild card a dynamic the situation might be, how do you see the Leafs stacking up in such a situation? 

TYSON BARRIE: I think we've got as good a chance as anybody. I think with the skill on our team and we're a fairly young team, I think if anybody can come out of this thing ready to rock, it's going to be us. I think we've got some guys with incredible talent. It'll be interesting to see what the games are like with no fans and all this, but I know that we've got skill, we've got speed and we've got youth on our side. I think we should have no problem coming out of this thing. 

Q. (Paul Hendrick, Leafs Nation Network): One of the best parts of the Mentor Trip was getting a chance to meet Grandpa Len Barrie. A big Leaf fan, big hockey fan generally and obviously loves you very much. How has he been through all of this and what's his perspective with what's going on in terms of maybe the possibility of this game getting back?

TYSON BARRIE: Yeah, he's doing alright, he's hanging in there. He's a pretty social person as you saw, I'm sure, so it's been tough and not being able to have his usual outlets for speaking with people and stuff. He's positive, he's on the island here so I've seen him a few times for backyard hangs, and that kind of thing. He's staying positive but I know it would mean the world to him to see me be able to play with the Maple Leafs in the playoffs, so I think he's really rooting for that.

Q. (Joshua Kloke, The Athletic): Given that it was kind of an up-and-down season, I'm curious with a bit of time that you've had to reflect, what did you learn about yourself as a player and as a person this season?

TYSON BARRIE: That's a good question. I think a big part of it for me was I learned that I can have a really rough patch and you just stay with what got you there in the first place and your work ethic and your keys. I didn't try to change my game, which I'm proud of myself for. I was obviously trying to improve but just be true to what type of player I am and have been and I'm grateful it turned for me.

Q. (Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star): You talked about how it's a strange time to be a free agent. Obviously, timing, as they say, is everything in sports and in life. How do you sort of philosophize around the fact that you're hitting a very important mark of your career from a business perspective at a moment like this?

TYSON BARRIE: Yeah, it's one of those things where I think you work a long, long time to get to a point where you're a free agent and teams want you and it -- for sure there's been moments where it seems a little dire, but I think for me, just keeping perspective that what is going on in the world, how fortunate of a position I am to be in, there's people who are losing jobs. I think we all know what's going on so to keep that in perspective for me is big and I think it'll all sort itself out, it might be a couple months later or whatever the case. At the end of the day, I'm very blessed and fortunate to be able to play a sport and make a good living doing it.

Q. (Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star): What's your level of concern in terms of injury risk, in terms of getting back up to speed if and when you're asked to be at game speed?

TYSON BARRIE: I think we've got a pretty good understanding that we're going to get some time to skate informally and kind of get the legs back under us. It sounds like there will be a pretty good training camp, two to three weeks, whatever the timeslot is. You add that up to about a month to skate and I think I'm pretty comfortable with that and I think most of the guys in the League will be able to get up to speed in that time.

Q. (Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press): A lot of folks, including Kyle Clifford last week, told us the idea of quarantine and family time is a hot topic among players right now, if we return. What's your concern level about that and how important do you think it is to players to have some sort of time around family and personal time, if you guys were able to resume? 

TYSON BARRIE: Yeah, I think it could be -- I've kind of looked at it as like a World Championship scenario where you're going to play with your team for a certain amount of time. I know, for me, I don't have a family and stuff. I have a lot of sympathy for guys who will have to go. I have a lot of friends who are having newborns and things like that, they're going to have to leave their kids and their wives. That's definitely something that needs to be addressed and I think guys need to be comfortable with that. It shouldn't have to be months on end that you're away from your newborn or whatever it is. There will have to be some further discussion about that, but I think we're all pretty dedicated to getting the season, finished so there might have to be some sacrifices made, but we'll see. I'm sure that the NHL and the PA will come up with their best scenario.

Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): There's been lots of talk about different formulas, different scenarios for the playoff. A lot of guys have also raised worries about the integrity of the game. I'm just wondering where you fall on that if it was to come down to la 24, 20-team type of setup right into the playoffs?

TYSON BARRIE: Yeah, it's not ideal. But I think, in a time like this, how can anything be super traditional or to speak about the integrity of it, I think the integrity will be there because it's still going to be the best players in the world playing against each other for the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup. It will certainly be weird without fans or whatever the scenario unfolds to be, but I think we all have to adapt and be willing to adapt and kind of realize that it's not going to be this perfect, classic NHL playoff. I think for the situation that we're in, for a year, I think that's fine.

Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): Just going back -- you talked about how things changed when Sheldon took over, I'm just wondering about what about his style specifically helped you with your game to sort of break out November? 

TYSON BARRIE: With Sheldon, he's an incredibly intelligent hockey mind. He just encouraged me to skate with it, move the puck, get our forwards the puck, but jumping in and holding on to the puck and getting active in the O-zone, that kind of thing. That's kind of what I've done my whole career, so it was nice to have a coach come and give me the confidence to do it and get that confidence back. I think you could see the first month or a couple weeks when we had him, it just seemed like we all had a little more jump to us and more a little more offence so that worked well with my game.

Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I'm just curious how you've managed this quarantine period. What's been the biggest challenge you've found and how have you got yourself through it and basically handled your emotions? 

TYSON BARRIE: To be quite honest, I'm out in Victoria, BC, and we've been super, super lucky with the weather we've been getting, and it's been quite nice so that made it easy. I've got a dog so we're going on dog walks and that's super calming, but I think just the same as anybody. Trying to stay active, we've got a Peloton so I'm getting on there and doing some home workouts. Sometimes it feels tougher than others to get motivated in the morning for that. But I'm the same as everybody, just trying to find ways to keep busy and thankfully we live in a spot where it's quite beautiful and it's nice to get outdoors here. 

Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): When it comes to the time to do your next contract or make that decision, what do you think your priorities will be or what will you be looking to achieve with that decision? 

TYSON BARRIE: I think it's got to be the right fit. I think it has to be a spot where they obviously are in need of someone like myself and a good team headed in the right direction, a good organization and I think there's a lot of organizations that tick those boxes so it'll be a process where you sit down and just go through everything and what's important to me.

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