Holiday season may mean feasts and presents for some people. For hockey fans, it’s about the World Juniors tournament, Winter Classic, and, of course, spending quality time with family.
Winnipeg native and Minnesota Wild defenseman Cam Barker spoke with Wild.com about his experience playing in both events and the possibility of playing outside in Minnesota. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound blueliner wouldn’t mind the cold, so long as they pronounce his name correctly. Wild.com: I hear there’s a good story about your nickname, “Baker,” care to share any of that?Barker
: There was an arena announcer when I was playing in the minors. I had a couple penalties in the game, and he kept announcing me as Cameron Baker. I told him it was Barker. I got called for three penalties that game, and he said “Baker” each time. The third time, he was looking right at me and he still pronounced it Baker and it kind of got under my skin a little bit. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it’s a funny story now.(Editor’s note: Truth be told, Barker squirted water on the PA announcer and was ejected from the contest.) Wild.com: Do people usually call you Cameron?Barker
: No. See, that’s the other thing. No one calls me Cameron. And he was calling me Cameron and he was calling me Baker, so it was like a double whammy. Wild.com: Was that on the road?Barker
: It was on the road, yeah. I wasn’t too happy at the time. Wild.com: World Juniors coming up. You played in the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 tournaments for Canada. Plan on watching it?Barker
: I love
watching it. Especially around Christmas, I remember watching it when I was younger. Playing in it was a great experience and I’ve been watching it ever since. Wild.com: Do you think that experience really helped your development?Barker
: For sure. It was such a great tournament. I played in two great spots – it was in North Dakota. A lot of Canadian fans came down and that’s kind of when Canada hadn’t won gold in a while. Then I played in Vancouver and we won again. It’s a great feeling. Wild.com: The U.S. has stepped up its game the past couple years. It’s taken the intensity of this storied North American rivalry to new heights.Barker
: For sure. In the Olympics and obviously the World Juniors, they’re putting good teams together. They’ve been good for a while now, and I don’t think it’s surprising at all. They run a great program. There are a lot of great U.S. players in the NHL and it seems to be growing. Wild.com: You played out at Wrigley Field in Chicago for the 2009 Winter Classic with against the Detroit Red Wings. Did you get a chance to see the Big Chill at the Big House with the University of Michigan and Michigan St. last weekend?Barker
: No, I didn’t, but I always have to hear the Michigan stories from (Eric) Nystrom – he never shuts up about that school. I always hear what’s going on, and he was telling me about it. I think he said there were 113,000 fans.
Events like that are great for hockey and they’re obviously fun to play in, too. Wild.com: Is that something you’d be interested in participating in again?Barker
: I would. I loved playing at Wrigley. It seemed to actually kind of fly by. You’re so focused on getting ready for the game, and obviously you’ve got a lot of family coming in – people that want to watch the game, and it goes by really quick. It was a great experience, and I loved playing in it. Wild.com: Have you been to TCF Bank Stadium or Target Field?Barker
: I’ve been to Target Field and that’s one of the first things I thought: what a great venue it would be for a game like that. A little bit colder here than it is in Chicago, but I don’t mind that. Wild.com: Might not have worked out well with this past weekend’s snow storm.Barker
: No – a lot of snow. I guess it’s better than being mild, and having issues with the ice, but nobody could’ve played in that. Wild.com: Are you a fan of those throwback jerseys that they pull out for the Winter Classics and other occasions?Barker
: I like them for sure. I just like them in general. It’s something different – as long as they’re good. There are some third jerseys in the league that I wouldn’t say are necessarily throwbacks, but I don’t think they’re the best jerseys around. Wild.com: As an NHL player, what are you most thankful for?Barker
: Just the chance to do something you love and help people along the way. It’s given me a lot of opportunities to help other people that are less fortunate. Waking up everyday and coming to the rink and doing something you love – it’s a great feeling. Wild.com: All you want for Christmas is…Barker
: I’m excited for my family to come down.