Golden lining for Barker

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:47 PM ET

For Winnipegger Cam Barker, all that glitters may not be gold.

The first-round draft pick (third overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004, Barker was sent back to his junior team yesterday, meaning he'll be with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL for the rest of the season.

Just 19, Barker got into one game with the 'Hawks, and will, no doubt, be bitterly disappointed he couldn't stick in the NHL.

We couldn't reach him yesterday, but his comments last week made it pretty clear he didn't think another year of junior was a good idea.

"This is where I want to be, there is no doubt in my mind," Barker told the Chicago Tribune. "It's just a matter of me proving to them that I can stay here and play at this level."

The rules stipulate Barker can't be sent to Chicago's AHL farm team in Norfolk.

Still, there is, potentially, a very silver lining to what appears to be a dark day for the talented defenceman. Make that a gold lining.

You may recall Barker was a member of Team Canada's championship team at the world junior championship in Grand Forks.

You might also remember he was robbed of some of the glory of that gold, struck down by a case of mononucleosis which prevented him from playing in the medal round.

Well, going back to Medicine Hat means Barker will likely be the only returnee for the 2006 world junior. He'll have a chance to be The Man, and actually be on the ice for a second gold, this time on Canadian soil, in Vancouver.

Does it get any better than that?

Years down the road, he might even be glad it worked out this way.

Of course, that's easy to say when you're not the guy giving up a salary of $984,200, which is what Barker's NHL contract called for, according to the NHL Players Association.

Some people would probably say a world junior gold medal is worth a million bucks.

Barker might be the first person to actually give up that amount for one.

DID YOU KNOW? Former Blue Bomber board member David Asper is still very much involved with the football club, despite his embarrassing tirade following a loss to Saskatchewan here last month?

The man who got into head coach Jim Daley's face and had to be forced out of the locker-room remains the co-chair of the 2006 Grey Cup committee, along with board member Gene Dunn.

Current Bomber board chair Ken Hildahl says he has no problem with Asper staying on to help plan the Grey Cup festival.

"There's really nothing there to be a problem for the club," Hildahl said. "It was an issue between him and the coach that's been resolved."

It's a little surprising, though, that Asper even has time to continue his Grey Cup duties.

After all, he claimed to have resigned from the Bomber board because he had "a lot of things on the go."

WORST DEFENCE, EVER? Was glad to see the CFL follow up on my research into the worst defences in league history.

It turns out my suspicions were correct: the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are it.

Going into tonight's game in Vancouver, the Bomber defence is giving up 451 yards offence per game -- the highest total, ever.

If they keep it up for two more games, they'll take a forgettable place in history currently occupied by the 1991 Saskatchewan Roughriders, who gave up an average of 446.4 yards.

Here's some incentive for the dirty dozen.

If they can hold the Lions and then Calgary, here next weekend, to an average of 406 yards per game, they won't go down as the worst defenders, ever.

Considering the B.C. offence rolled up more than 500 yards in Montreal last week, I don't like their chances.


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