BORN FEBRUARY 13TH, 1951 in Montréal, Québec, Canada, many considered he could have played NHL had he been born 10 years later. He developed in the Canadian junior leagues then played two seasons of pro hockey in Germany from about 1970. A chance meeting with a friend who was playing hockey in Australia changed the course of his career and he arrived Down Under from Germany in 1972, intending only to play the Canadian off-season.
He joined the local Blackhawks club in the Victorian league and then represented the state about 7 times, 1973 to 1980, winning 5 Goodall Cups (1973, '74, '75, '76, '78) and probably another in 1979. He was the state Goalkeeper of the Year three times (1973, '75, 80) and he won the President's Medal in 1977, the state association A-Grade MVP (now the Noel Derrick Trophy).
He naturalised and represented Australia in the C-Pool of the IIHF World Championships at Grenoble France in 1974, where he faced 61 shots against Hungary saving 85.1%; 46 against China saving 82.6%; and 45 against Bulgaria saving 75.6%. In 1977 he represented both Victoria and Australia against the West German National Team at Iceland Ringwood. The Australian team was comprised of permanent residents only and so it was less competitive than the Victorian squad which included players imported from overseas. He represented his adopted country one last time at the 1979 C-Pool Worlds in Barcelona Spain.
In 1980 he was minder for the Ringwood Rangers in the inaugural season of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL). Managed by Pat Burley, the squad included Sandy Gardner, Nipper Heath, Tony Cuomo and his brother Danny who now coaches the Bulgarian U18 and U20 national squads. The next season, he minded net for the Dandenong Blackhawks in the NIHL. He also played for the Victorian All Stars against the NSW State Team in 1981. It was his tenth season of competition hockey in Australia, and his last.
“A great player and the best goalie for a long period of time and a great ambassador of the sport in Australia,” said Elgin Luke, who had also coached him for many years at club level, and in Victoria’s 5-win streak in the Goodall Cup, 1972 to '76. Anders Wiking had comparable stats in the 1974 Worlds in which they shared 3 games apiece and Danny McIvor of the Demons was also a comparable contemporary. "His glove hand was amazing", recalls Andrew McDowell, Harkin's back-up for 2 years, "and his reflexes cat-like for a big man...like many top athletes, he demanded the best from everyone and he did have a temper".
"I didn't play a lot of regular seasons in Melbourne," said Peter Nixon, "but the one I did, I played against Barry with the Hawks, Dan (McIvor) with Oakleigh and Anders (Wiking) behind me at Footscray. All three could bring the house down, but if you could rattle them, they leaked goals, like even the best in the NHL. But as with many who play that friendless position in the great game, they steadied and produced blinders".
He retired at the end of 1981, still only 30, and too young for the Melbourne Nite Owls in the Oldtimer's league. He married Karen and had four children — daughter Jodie, sons John Paul, Phillip and Robert. Two sons played basketball and Robert became quite exceptional. John Paul was tragically killed in a motor cycle accident. He returned to Canada briefly, 15 years after he had first arrived, then again with his family for 2 years to set up a business. He has been an independent senior technology consultant since 1983.
Ross Carpenter, 'Harkin, Barry (1951 - )', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia, http://icelegendsaustralia.com/legends-2/bio_harkin.html, accessed online .