The 1979 trade between the New York Rangers and Colorado Rockies brought hard-hitting defenseman Barry Beck to the city that never sleeps.
Vancouver native Barry Beck was a No. 2 overall pick of the Colorado Rockies in the 1977 NHL Amature Draft. He was talented, but his size and stature made him more of a trade commodity while playing for a bad team.
Following the 1978-79 season, a campaign that saw the New York Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Blueshirts were looking for a strong blueliner. Needless to say, hopes were high of making another run towards the Cup.
In November 1979, general manager Fred Shero executed a trade with the Rockies. It was a huge deal by the Rangers, which sent Pat Hickey, Lucien DeBlois, Mike McEwen, Bobby Sheehan, Dean Turner, and future considerations (Bobby Crawford) to Colorado for the left-handed defenseman.
The trade added size and grit to the team’s defense.
Beck’s first season in the Big Apple was statistically his best. He ultimately recorded 14 goals, 45 assists, and 98 penalty minutes in 61 games. The 22-year-old made his mark in New York, helping the team reach the playoffs that season.
Beck and the Rangers would make the postseason every year he was a member of the team. Nonetheless, the trade propelling the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals never transpired.
That didn’t take away from the exciting career he experienced while donning a Rangers sweater though.
In seven seasons with the Blueshirts, Beck notched 66 goals with 173 assists (239 points) and averaged nearly 111 penalty minutes per year. He appeared in 51 total playoff games, netting 10 goals with 33 points and 77 penalty minutes. In 1980-81, he recorded 231 penalty minutes, which is the fifth-highest single-season mark in team history.
Bubba, a nickname his teammates gave him, was named captain of the team in the 1980-81 season at the age of 23.
Though Beck was not known for his scoring prowess, he did have plenty of chances. He preferred to pass instead of shoot on plenty of opportunities to the dismay of Rangers announcer Bill Chadwick. This infuriation led the way to the infamous line, “shoot the puck Barry.” Chadwick would use this phrase whenever Beck passed up on a decent scoring opportunity.
Beck would’ve recorded more goals and penalty minutes if not for a shoulder injury suffered in Game 4 of 1984’s opening playoff round against the hated New York Islanders. Pat Flatley cleanly crushed him into the boards.
Beck only played in 81 games the next two seasons before deciding to step away in order to improve his lingering shoulder issue. He attempted a comeback with the Los Angeles Kings when they traded for him in the 1989-90 season. He played in 52 games that campaign and scored one goal. He then decided to retire at the end of the season.
Life after hockey
Beck resides in Hong Kong, where he moved to in 2007. He’s been a major voice for the Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey, which encompasses more than 500 players and includes the Hong Kong national team.
Beck stepped down as the head coach of the national team but is still involved in the program at numerous levels.
He also hasn’t forgotten his time with the Rangers and the teammates he skated alongside. Beck is a strong voice for former Ranger Mark Pavelich and his struggles with mental illness.
A look at Beck’s Facebook page displays his concern for what Pavelich is going through now.
Beck didn’t undergo a long illustrious career with New York due to his shoulder injury. His time on Broadway did leave an everlasting impression with the fans though, and that’s all any player who’s played for the Blueshirts has wanted.