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posted: 2/12/2010 12:01 AM

Barker keeps focus on Hawks, not impending trade deadline

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  • The Blackhawks' Cam Barker, right, celebrates with Duncan Keith after Barker scored a goal earlier this season.

      The Blackhawks' Cam Barker, right, celebrates with Duncan Keith after Barker scored a goal earlier this season.
    Associated Press

 
 

These are tense times around NHL dressing rooms with the trade deadline approaching and rumors floating everywhere.

The Blackhawks are at the center of a lot of speculation with defenseman Cam Barker's name out there more than others.

"I think everybody thinks about it and hears something from somewhere, but that's the reality of your job," Barker said Thursday. "Not a lot of guys do spend their career with the same franchise, so it's just a reality you've got to face.

"We feel pretty good about our group here, and we're focused on that."

While the actual trade deadline isn't until March 3, the league's roster freeze for the Olympics goes into effect today and extends through Feb. 28.

Barker, of course, wants to stay in Chicago and help finish what he and his teammates started, but his $3 million salary for two more years is working against him on a club everyone knows must eventually shave payroll going forward into 2010-11.

"Obviously there's a lot of guys in this room that signed big contracts and whatnot, and I guess the cap system is in place for a reason, but I think what we've got here is pretty special," Barker said.

"Everybody realizes that it's part of the business and something that's unavoidable. I'm sure everyone else in the league will tell you the same thing that if you listen to everything you heard you'd go crazy. You try to tune it out, that's for sure."

Barker has had an up-and-down season after appearing to be on the verge of a breakout. He had 40 points in 68 games last year but this season has had less ice time, particularly on the power play, and has 14 points in 51 games.

"He's had some good stretches," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He got off to an ordinary start, I felt, and lately he looks like he's coming on.

"I know his minutes aren't up to the number he had last year, and I think everybody plays better with more ice time, but at the same time our defense has played well.

"I think Barks, to be effective, if he can push for more, but his play has to push for more as well. He's been OK, but I think we expect a little more."

Barker averages only 13 minutes of ice time, last among the Hawks' top six defensemen.

"It's a team-first mentality and whatever role you're asked to fill, you fill it," Barker said. "That's what good teams do, what championship teams do, and I'm happy to do that."

Barker will get another opportunity to resume a bigger role Saturday against Atlanta when Quenneville goes back to him as one of the power-play point men.

The power play is 0-for-20 over the last six games.

"We're going to look to use him Saturday," Quenneville said. "Barks has a great shot and he has good patience with it and good play recognition as well. It will be nice to get him involved and maybe him spearheading the power play getting going."

Barker got only 34 seconds of power-play time in Tuesday's win over Dallas and has lost power-play time most of the season to Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Brian Campbell and Dustin Byfuglien.

"I guess when things are working you've got to stay with it," Barker said. "It's about winning games and that's the focus. That's why we're so good here; it's a team-first mentality and that's what we're focused on.

"I think we're fifth or sixth on the power play (eighth, actually), and that's pretty good."

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