Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hawks keep Barker; make him a $9-million man

Three-year extension for Winnipeg product

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Cam BARKER has plans for some of the nine million bucks he picked up late Monday but they just don't include any personal splurging.

"I don't need anything. I got a new car at the end of the season. I might buy a place in Chicago but the one thing I'm doing for sure is getting a very special gift for my parents," said the 23-year-old Barker, who signed a three-year, $9.25-million extension with the Chicago Blackhawks. "There are a few other people that will get nice gifts but my parents have done everything for me and always been there for me. It'll be great to get them something special. But that's really all I have planned right now."

Barker was one of the six young Blackhawks caught up in this week's NHL fiasco that has the NHLPA filing a grievance with the league over the team's tardy mailing of qualifying offers. Offers must be received by the players via mail by June 29 and when that didn't happen, the status of the players became fuzzy. Potentially, Barker could have become an unrestricted free agent and it was speculated that on the open market he would draw offers of $5 million per season on the high end.

"I'm just real glad that I'm staying in Chicago. I love the city and the organization and I'm just glad that I can stay here for the next three years and hopefully be part of something special," said Barker, veteran of parts of four NHL seasons with 13 goals and 53 assists in 149 games. "We've got a bunch of good young players and we got a little taste of the playoffs last year. We love coming to the rink and it's just a fun atmosphere. We want to stay together and try and win a Stanley Cup here."

The Blackhawks have now re-signed five of the six players to new deals with Barker hitting the biggest jackpot. Also given new deals were Ben Eager, Troy Brouwer, Colin Fraser and Aaron Johnson. Rookie-of-the-year candidate Kris Versteeg remains unsigned.

Barker established himself as a full-time NHL defenceman last season after he began the year in the AHL when the Hawks ran into salary-cap issues and thought the young blue-liner could use a bit more seasoning on the farm.

The stint with the Rockford IceHogs, however, was short and upon his return the 6-foot-4, 225-pounder flourished. The former first-round pick had six goals and 34 assists in 60 games as he discovered the mix of physical dominance and offensive prowess that his potential had always suggested.

Money has ruined many a good hockey player but Barker says his roots and goals will steer him right.

"The way I was brought up is the first thing," said Barker, who played his minor hockey in Fort Garry. "Playing hockey isn't about the money. It's great to have but for me hockey is about reaching my goals: Winning a Stanley Cup and continuing to improve."

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 8, 2009 C1

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