December 7, 2007 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Jon Barkan, Friend of College Hockey, Passes Away

by Mike Machnik/CHN Senior Editor

We were shocked tonight to learn of the death of one of college hockey's true friends, Jon Barkan, at the age of just 39.

I worry I can't do justice to him and what he meant to so many people and the game of college hockey, but I feel I want to say something at this time.

If you have followed the college game for some time, you know Jon and what he meant to so many. I first met him while we were both undergrads at Northeastern in the late 1980s, and he had an unmistakable charisma that would draw people to him throughout his life and his many endeavors, be it journalism, business opportunities, public relations and communications — you name it, Jon did it.

Jon became a figure that was almost "larger than life," as I saw mentioned on one blog about his passing. He had an incredible passion for the game of college hockey, and more so, an ability to bring people together.

That was never more evident than at the annual "Barkan Bash," which Jon hosted at the NCAA finals each year, before it was known as the Frozen Four. There was always much to eat and drink, and a rare time when coaches, players, media and fans would all come together regardless of affiliation, in celebration of our sport.

After Jon moved to Georgia and life took him in other directions, including work with CNN and the Atlanta Thrashers, our contact was only through occasional emails, often talking hockey, but one of the things I'll never forget is exchanging photos of our kids a year or so ago, after the birth of my daughter Katelyn. From that email, Jon wrote:

" will NEVER EVER love another person like you will love that little girl. So sweet — wait till she gets to about three and turns to you and says, 'I love you daddy.' Freakin' melt on the spot!"

And that for me is the most shocking and troubling thing about this, knowing that Jon leaves behind a family he adored, his wife and three small children.

He was a man who lived and did so much in such a short time, yet, I can't help but feel he had so much more to live and was taken from us far, far too soon.

Please, as we will, keep Jon and his family in your thoughts and prayers. He was truly one of a kind.

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