Wherever he played, Marty Barry was a productive centre whose work ethic was lauded by teammates and opponents alike. His stamina and dedication made him one of the most consistent and durable performers of his era. Between 1929 and 1939, he missed only two NHL regular season games.
Although born just north of Quebec City, Barry grew up and learned to play hockey in Montreal. He played in the Mount Royal intermediate league with the Gurney Foundry team in 1922-23, with St. Michael's the following year and then with St. Anthony for two seasons after that. A proficient scorer, he was known by the local sportswriters as "Goal-a-Game" Barry.
After a strong season with the Montreal Bell Telephone team, he was signed by New York Americans manager Newsy Lalonde in 1927, but he played only nine games with the Americans before they sent him to the Philadelphia Arrows of the Can-Am league for conditioning. The next season, with the New Haven Eagles, he led that league with 19 goals and 29 points.
Barry got a major break when the Boston Bruins claimed him from the Americans in the Intra-League Draft in May 1929. He joined a powerhouse team that was entering the 1929-30 season as the defending Stanley Cup champions. That year, the Dynamite Line of Cooney Weiland, Dutch Gainor and Dit Clapper, along with defencemen Eddie Shore and Lionel Hitchman, led the Bruins to a remarkable 38-5-1 record. Barry was one of the team's best players with three goals in a semi-final victory over the Montreal Maroons. The team seemed certain to repeat as title holders, but the Montreal Canadiens mounted a stunning upset in the Final.
Barry gradually assumed a more prominent role with the Bruins, racking up five consecutive 20-goal seasons from 1930 to 1935. Barry made his first appearance among the NHL's top 10 scorers in 1933-34 when his 27 goals were second only to Toronto star Charlie Conacher's total of 32.
On June 30, 1935, Barry was involved in a blockbuster trade that sent him to Detroit while ex-Bruin Cooney Weiland returned to Boston. With the Red Wings, Barry formed one of the NHL's top forward units with Herbie Lewis and Larry Aurie. His 40-point total in the 48-game schedule in 1935-36 placed him second in the league scoring race to Sweeney Schriner. The following season, he recorded a career-high 44 points, was selected to the NHL's First All-Star Team and was the first Red Wing to win the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct.
Barry's play was crucial to the Detroit franchise's success during this period. The team finished at the top of the NHL regular season standings and won the Stanley Cup in both 1936 and 1937, making the Wings the first U.S.-based team to capture back-to-back championships.
In November 1939, Barry signed with the Montreal Canadiens, for whom he played his last NHL season. He left the league with the reputation of being a consistent offensive producer as well an "iron man" who almost never missed a game. In 1940-41, he performed for the Minneapolis Millers of the AHA, then retired as a player.
In the 1940s, Barry embarked on a rewarding coaching career with the Halifax St. Mary's juniors. Under his tutelage the team reached the eastern Canada finals, one step short of the Memorial Cup, in 1947.
He gained a place in the Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1944 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1965.