But if you played against him, chances were you remembered after the game was over. He was a rare throwback to the old days of hockey - a classic defensive defenseman who played very physically but without taking many penalties. He only had 671 PIM in 745 games. That certainly wouldn't qualify him for the Lady Byng trophy, but in the NHL a rough and tumble blueliner who managed to stay out of the penalty box is almost unheard of.
Former NHL coach and GM and long time broadcaster Harry Neale was a fan of Barrett's. He once called him "perhaps the most underrated defenseman in the league."
"You hate to play against him because he must get 10 hits a night," Harry said. This of course was long before the NHL published statistics such as body check counts.
"He defends in the classic way, by taking people right out of the play and, as often as not, it hurts."
Barrett also acquired his fair share of aches and pains.
"I used to get injured a lot myself, probably as a result of playing the body the way I did," said Barrett. It took him 6 years before he played a full season in the NHL without a major injury. In all he only played in three of thirteen seasons where he played more than 70 of 80 games.
He excelled as a defensive rearguard on some bad Minnesota North Star teams in the 1970s and early 1980s. In that time he saw the Stars go from absolutely horrible to a promising team. By the late 1970s the team had acquired an impressive collection of talent and many people expected the team to be the team of 1980s. Aside from a surprising Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1981, the team never fulfilled its destiny.
Fred rounded out his NHL career with 15 games with Los Angeles in 1983-84 when he and Steve Christoff were traded for the crafty Dave Lewis.