“The only thing my wife (Kathy) told me was that no one really thought you could handle the things that you accomplished,” said Barzee. “You had to keep proving yourself over and over again, but that’s what made me leave, what made me tick.
“I didn’t have a college degree, I wasn’t a rocket scientist, but experience is the best teacher and although I didn’t have a paper degree, I had 27 other survival degrees.”
The 80-year-old said he was most proud to have helped the United States Hockey League transition from a senior to a junior league in the mid-1970s. He helped bring it about junior hockey in Dubuque, Iowa, for the first time in 1980 and later became an advocate of United States-born players as one of the best talent spotlight in hockey as a full-time scout with the Central NHL screening.
Barzee will receive the 2021 Lester Patrick Trophy at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Denver on December 9.
Lynn Olson will receive the 2020 Lester Patrick Trophy, which was presented to the NHL by the New York Rangers in 1966 to honor Patrick who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach, general manager and was a pioneer in the development of sport. The HHOF US 2020 ceremony has been postponed by the pandemic.
The event also honors 2021 inductees Stan Fischler, Paul Holmgren and Peter McNab as well as 2020 Class recipients Dean Blais, Tony Granato, Jenny Potter and Jerry York.
“You can’t talk about USHL without mentioning Jack, from a game’s point of view, from a coach’s point of view, from a construction point of view or from a wisdom point of view,” the president said. of the Waterloo Black Hawks hockey operations, PK O’Handley. “Jack’s personality, at times, maybe rubbed people the wrong way, but if he didn’t, I’m not sure the USHL would be what it is today.”
Barzee was working in the elevator business in the summer of 1973 when he learned that the Waterloo franchise was up for sale. He phoned an existing member of the Black Hawks board and was told the sale of the team would be finalized four days later.
“I asked my friend on the board if he would help me get a group together to make a proposal to buy the team,” said Barzee. “We had 24 hours to put a group and a proposal together to buy out the existing team for 50 cents on the dollar of their debt and carry over the loss.”
Waterloo operated as a senior team with paid players from 1973 to 1977 before starting a three year transition to a team made up of unpaid junior players (17-20 years old).
“One owner of a furniture company in Waterloo had four season passes and he said, ‘I’m not going to watch a bunch of high school kids play’ and I said, ‘Well they’re the future of hockey. , ‘”said Barzee.” Nobody understood back then, but they would. “
Waterloo, Green Bay and Sioux City decided to merge with the Midwest Junior League, which at the time had three junior teams based in Minnesota: St. Paul, Bloomington and Austin. The six teams created the new USHL junior product from 1979-80.
In 1980-81, Barzee brought a team to Dubuque and enjoyed immediate success, winning the Clark Cup as the league champion three times in the first five years (1981, 1983, 1985).
“I’m very proud of the role I played in the USHL’s transition from a senior to junior hockey league,” said Barzee. “I wasn’t trying to run anything, but I was just trying to improve it.”
Barzee was USHL Executive of the Year (1976-77 with Waterloo), Coach of the Year (1978 with Waterloo; 1981 and ’83 with Dubuque) and General Manager of the Year (1983, Dubuque).
“Jack had good instincts for the league, good instincts for his growth, what to do, so I visited him constantly … he was a special guy,” said Gino Gasparini, former commissioner of the league. USHL (1994-2003) and President (2003-09).
After eight successful seasons with two USHL franchises, Barzee continued a 27-year career as a professional scout. He spent four seasons as chief United States recruiter for the Washington Capitals (1989-90 to 1992-93) and 23 seasons with the NHL Central Scouting before announcing his retirement after the 2012 NHL Draft. NHL in Pittsburgh.
Barzee and his wife of 53 years have two sons, each a Minnesota high school hockey coach, and five grandchildren.
“[Barzee] was always around the game and always at full blast with passion, ”said NHL Central Scouting Senior Director David Gregory. “It was always about doing it right and being passionate, not just accepting. He’s made us so good as a group. “
Barzee had great scouting instincts.
“He understood there had to be more projection when you look at players outside of the United States,” Gregory said. “He had the experience of saying a guy like TJ Oshie was going to be a stallion. Oshie was great in high school then, but everyone was like, “Well, so he does that in high school.” Well, he’s doing it now in the NHL and at the Olympics.
“Jack knew how to do that projection and not be afraid to defend a player even if he was playing high school or sometimes midget level.”
Barzee said most of his projections were gut instincts based on traditional tactics.
“Sometimes the most talented players don’t always work the hardest but can step up and win a game for their team,” he said. “Hockey is a fast game and speed is very important, whether it’s in the feet, hands or head. If you are a top athlete and have all three of these characteristics, chances are you are a great prospect.
Barzee fought hard for the separation of high school players from those who play in the USHL on the NHL Central Scouting’s annual North American skaters list.
“He asked if the USHL could have their own separate ranking because they were still grouped with US high schools and, over time, we did,” said Dan Marr, director of the Central Tracing Bureau. . “That’s the only thing about Jack; his heart is always in the right place. He has opinions, and he expresses them, but it is expressed with passion.”
Chris Edwards was a full-time scout at the NHL’s Central Scouting Office for 15 years before becoming the NHL’s director of referees in 2016. He remembers scout meetings well when Barzee hammered the table in defense of the players. of his region.
“Jack was one of the funniest human beings on the planet,” said Edwards. “The only guy who could outdo him was EJ McGuire. EJ was joking about his phone calls with Jack that lasted all morning. However, it was still not clear if one of the guys was listening to the other.”
McGuire, the director of Central Scouting from 2005 to 2011, died in 2011.
“I think with everything he’s accomplished in hockey he’s always put people first and that’s a big part of why everyone loves Jack,” said Gregory. “You can fight with Jack, and I mean chat players or whatever, but that will never make up for the fact that he’s just a great human being.”