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Barnett excited to be a man on the go

by Dan Rosen /

Former Coyotes GM, Mike Barnett, will now work for the Rangers as senior advisor to President and GM, Glen Slather.
Mike Barnett is excited for the next challenge of his career in hockey, mainly because this one doesn't involve a television or an office.

"It's going to be seeing a lot of hockey, and I welcome that," said Barnett, who was hired this summer by the New York Rangers to be the senior advisor to President and GM Glen Sather. "I have been watching a lot on the dish over the last 12 months, but it's not the same as being in the rink."

Barnett was the Phoenix Coyotes GM from 2001-07 after serving as a player agent, most notably to Wayne Gretzky, for two decades. He said his new job description doesn't have a specific definition, which is actually quite invigorating.

"It's working with Slats and the executive staff and scouting staff," Barnett said. "It's basically trying to be of assistance in any capacity."

He started roughly a week before July 1, so he assisted Sather and the Rangers front office staff through the offseason acquisition period. When the puck drops, Barnett said he'll spend most of his time scouting the Rangers' prospects.

"For the first six months I want to be out and seeing a lot of games," Barnett said, "whether it's the Hartford kids, the players from junior the Rangers have drafted and the upcoming draft kids, or looking at collegiate games considering the magnitude of collegiate free agents coming into the League."

Barnett said the last time he was out and about like this during an NHL season was when he was traveling the world as a player agent. It was the only true scouting he has done in his hockey career.

"I represented 100-plus players, so I covered every corner of the globe to see players and determine whether we wanted to take on them," he said. "You're scouting in a sense that there are thousands of kids out there and we were trying to determine who we thought were sure things and try to work with them. That's how you get success in that business."

Barnett had little success with the Coyotes, who made the playoffs just once during his five seasons in the desert. When his days with the organization expired, Barnett figured it would be best to spend some time away from the game.

He stayed in Phoenix with his family and watched his boys, Jeffe and J.T., play. Barnett said J.T. will play for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League this coming season.

"Taking a step back and recharging was something that I felt was really important," Barnett said. "The opportunity with the Rangers was presented to me immediately after changes were made in Phoenix, but I felt I needed time away. When Glen addressed it again just after the All-Star break, I felt ready to go and I was excited to get back into the game. I have known Glen for 30-plus years. I have known Tom Renney since he was a teenager. The fit was there."

Barnett may one day want to get back into the king's chair inside an organization's front office, but right now he won't admit it.

"I wouldn't even want to answer that because my focus is 1,000 percent on doing whatever Glen and the Rangers need me to do," Barnett said. "Suffice to say if I stay with them for the rest of my career I would be extremely satisfied."

Can you blame him?

He's got an open schedule, a clean slate, and his office is the rink.

"You have to be ready to adapt when necessary," Barnett said, "but at this point it's not a desk job and I'm going to relish that."

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