Jack Barzee’s long and varied career in hockey covered parts of six decades and included many formative experiences with the Waterloo Black Hawks.
On Monday, the Black Hawks announced that the organization will nominate Barzee for the United States Hockey Hall of Fame before the selection committee begins to consider its 2021 candidates near the end of February.
“He was a pioneer of where we are today, and why we are here today with the amount of Americans that have the opportunity they have,” said Black Hawks President and Head Coach P.K. O’Handley.
Retiring from NHL Central Scouting in 2012, Barzee had spent 23 years working for the National Hockey League in addition to four years as a scout for the Washington Capitals. During that period, players born and developed in the United States became increasingly prominent at the highest levels of professional hockey. At the time Barzee began scouting, approximately 75 percent of NHL’ers were Canadian, while U.S. players shared the balance of opportunities with their counterparts of various European nationalities. Today, Americans make up nearly 30 percent of NHL rosters.
Before Barzee had the opportunity to influence the perception of U.S. skaters, he took a hand in directly developing many as a coach and junior hockey team owner. Beginning in the 1976/77 season, Barzee became the Black Hawks’ head coach during the team’s final season with a roster of all senior players. That offseason, he was an influential voice as the USHL merged with the Midwest Junior Hockey League.
The two years which followed included hybrid rosters of junior and senior players skating together, and Barzee’s Black Hawks won the league’s playoff title in both 1978 and 1979. Skating with an all-junior club in 1979/80, Waterloo won the league’s South Division and reached the Clark Cup Championship series.
Barzee would go on to found the Dubuque Fighting Saints in 1980, leading that organization to three Clark Cups, two Anderson Cups, and two USA Hockey National Junior Gold Cup championships in just five seasons. His Saints also produced the most prominent NHL player developed in the USHL during the league’s first decade of all-junior competition: future Calder Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion Gary Suter.
Barzee originally hailed from New Haven, Connecticut. After skating for several minor league and senior teams in the northeast, he joined the Black Hawks in 1965/66. He was a member of three Waterloo USHL championship squads. The game also took him briefly to the Green Bay Bobcats when the Hawks were on hiatus from the USHL in 1969/70 and to Kusnacht, Switzerland, in 1972/73.
His return to Waterloo provided his first administrative role, when he became Publicity Director and President of Black Hawks Enterprises, the publicly-owned company operating the team throughout much of the 1970s.
Support for Jack Barzee’s Hockey Hall of Fame Candidacy
“You look at Gino Gasparini, you look at Herb Brooks, you look at Jack Barzee...they got with a bunch of owners and said what this [the USHL] could be. Quite frankly, they had a crystal ball that it could be a large feeder for the National Hockey League…he was a driver in this and really set forth the vision of what this has become.” –P.K. O’Handley, President and Head Coach of the Waterloo Black Hawks and winningest head coach in United States Hockey League history.
“He stayed very connected, very involved, and was a believer in the USA system, the USHL system, and the college system…Knowing Jack, he would have fought like heck for the U.S. player at every turn as he was scouting, and I’m sure people at the NHL level leaned on him heavily for expertise when evaluating talent.” –Bob Motzko, Head Coach of the Minnesota Gophers and former player for Jack Barzee in Waterloo and Dubuque.
“It was a tough sell back then [finding pro hockey opportunities for American players]. American hockey was very fortunate to have a person like Jack in the position that he was…and I know he promoted the American hockey player from Day One, and will, to this day, promote the American hockey player.” –Mike Randolph, Head Coach at Duluth East High School, member of the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and former Waterloo teammate of Jack Barzee.
“During his time with NHL Central Scouting, Jack was a key catalyst in having the USHL being recognized in the scouting world as the top junior league in the United States and he proudly promoted the talent and potential that was available to the professional hockey ranks from the United States.” –Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting, commenting on Jack Barzee in 2016.
Other Notable Honors and Achievements from Jack Barzee’s Resume
–Three-time USHL Coach of the Year (’78, ’81, & ’83)
–USHL Treasurer, 1981-1983
–Coached the U.S. entry during the 1979, 1980, and 1981 Beard Cup tournaments in Switzerland
–Recognized in 2005 with the USHL’s Distinguished Service Award
–Former member of USA Hockey’s Board of Directors
The Black Hawks encourage anyone with additional supporting material for Jack Barzee’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame candidacy to contact the team by mail (P.O. Box 2222, Waterloo, IA 50704), phone (319.232.3444) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) by February 15. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1973 and is based in Eveleth, Minnesota. Its goal is to preserve the history of the game in the U.S., while recognizing the extraordinary contributions of select players, coaches, administrators, officials and teams.
During the coming weeks, learn more about Barzee's lifetime playing and working in hockey with several feature articles on waterlooblackhawks.com.