By Nicholas Carafa
Photos by Aaron Bell (above) and Erin Riley (below)
While coaching his son in minor hockey, Jeff Brown constantly strategized against the opposition, often trying to find a way to stop Travis Barron. It wasn’t until they both became members of the Ottawa 67’s that the strategy changed: Brown, as head coach and general manager, was now tasked with developing Barron’s game, rather than stifling it.
The 67’s took Barron third overall in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection, after the Brampton native managed 23 goals and 41 points in 30 games with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and captained the club to the Minor Midget AAA GTHL Championship.
It was a season in which draft hype was focused on his Jr. Canadiens teammate Jakob Chychrun. Throughout that campaign, the facets of Barron’s well-rounded game stood out thanks in large part to his unrelenting competitiveness on the ice.
Now 17, Barron has translated that competitiveness into success, compiling 9-17—26 through 44 games this season to help Ottawa (27-23-1-1, 56 points) maintain second place in the East Division.
“[He] has to keep improving, and [all the intangibles] will keep on developing,” said Brown. “You can never be a good enough skater. There are guys in the NHL that constantly work on skill development and trying to get better and that’s what we’re doing around here.”
Barron, who scored his first OHL hat trick against the Sting on Oct. 18, is three goals from equaling his rookie total in 2014-15 (12-9—21 in 64 GP).
He has earned respect for his work in the classroom as well, being recognized as the OHL’s East Division Academic Player of the Month in December 2014.
“Travis is a respectful, engaged and determined student who always puts forth a consistent effort in his attempts to balance playing hockey for the 67’s and being a successful student,” said 67’s academic advisor Eileen Duffin.
Barron has become a regular piece on Ottawa’s penalty kill and has also been tasked with generating offence on the power play. As the 67’s continue their playoff push, Barron will look for a strong finish to draw more attention from scouts ahead of the upcoming NHL Draft – he placed No. 60 among North American Skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings in January.
For his part, Brown is focused on instilling confidence in his team, highlighting the fact that a player’s ranks on a list isn’t the be all and end all for a career in hockey.
“You’re going to drive yourself nuts if you’re looking at all these lists and gauge yourself versus other guys,” said Brown, whose organization puts together their own prospect list for developmental purposes. “All it takes is a team to come in and see what kind of player you are – they don’t look at these lists, they look at their own list.”
Human curiosity – and speculation – can pose one of the biggest obstacles for potential draftees, as media outlets rank and hype players for all sorts of reasons.
However, the message from Brown is reassuring, firm and clear for Barron: take care of what you can control and the rest will take care of itself.
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