After foregoing his senior season at Cornell to play for the New York Rangers, Morgan Barron ‘21 made his NHL debut on May 1.
Barron’s decision to sign with the Rangers or return to Cornell was one of the uncertainties facing the Red ahead of the 2020-21 season.
“I felt like I had proven what I needed to prove in college,” Barron said. “Obviously I would’ve liked to have a chance to take a run at a national championship that last year, but I felt like I was ready to take the next step for my game and I’m glad I did.”
The former Red captain started the season with the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Hartford, where he scored 10 goals and notched 11 assists in 21 games. The Rangers called Barron up on April 30th, after injuries sidelined two of their players — Brett Howden and Chris Kreider.
“It’s a lot of fun watching a guy experience his first NHL game,” Rangers coach Dan Quinn said to the New York Post. “To me, Morgan has earned his opportunity.”
Barron made his debut in a May 1 game against the New York Islanders. He spent just under 12 minutes on the ice and did not attempt any shots.
Barron’s debut has been watched closely in Ithaca by his former teammates and coaches — head coach Mike Schafer ’86 has been in touch with Barron throughout the season.
“It’s a tough journey in the minors knowing you want to reach your goal of playing in the NHL, Schafer said. “It’s a great accomplishment that he was able to get there this year…I’m really proud of him.”
Barron scored his first NHL goal during his third game with one minute and 16 seconds left in the third period in a 2-4 loss against the Washington Capitals on May 5. While Barron was excited about the goal, he was disappointed that it came in a loss.
“It was definitely a little bit bittersweet,” Barron said at a press conference. “To get that goal is exciting, it’s something you work towards for a long time. Unfortunately it came a few minutes too late in the game. I would’ve loved for it to come a bit earlier.”
Despite the loss, Barron’s former coach thinks that his experience will propel him forward because of his competitiveness.
“To me, I watch Morgan knowing how much of a competitor he is,” Schafer said. “He scored last night and you know internally he’s really excited, but what makes him so special is that you can just look on his face and see how upset he was that they lost that game. That’s what makes Morgan special. I’m sure he was excited for himself, but Morgan loves to win.”