Boston Bruins forward David Backes was excited that he was cleared to play Saturday.
“I’ve got a healthy squash, so that’s a good sign for me,” Backes said speaking to the media for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury back on November 2.
However, the rugged winger still had the player he collided with to suffer the injury, on his mind almost a month later. Ottawa Senators forward Scott Sabourin is on the road to his recovery after being knocked out cold and stretchered off the ice in the scariest incident of the season and Backes has been keeping tabs on him.
“It was heavy,” Backes said. “With the incident earlier with (Roman) Polak being stretchered off (in Dallas on Oct. 3), it was tough to see anybody stretchered off the ice. You’re all kind of, in the end, a fraternity of guys playing this sport and loving this sport, and nobody wants to see anybody injured.
“To be part of a collision, and I saw (Sabourin) down there, and I saw blood coming from his mouth, his nose, his eye and he wasn’t moving … I’ve seen guys knocked out quite a few times and after 15 or 20 seconds they start to get the twitches or they wake up wondering where they are. It’s scary, but it seemed to me like he was out for minutes.”
Backes feared the worst for Sabourin as he laid motionless and bleeding.
“I was really fearful that he was critically injured and he needed significant help,” Backes painfully recalled. “As he started moving, that (reaction) subsided a little bit, but my vision wasn’t great and I knew I was a little messed-up from the contact as well and I needed to go take care of myself as well.”
Backes is still praying for Sabourin to get to where he is, ready to return and potentially play Sunday night against the Montreal Canadiens.
“I still think about him and I pray for him when I think about what I’m going through and I would imagine he’s hopefully on a similar path to recovery and being back on the ice shortly,” Backes said.
The experience, one of too many for the frequently concussed Backes, once again put things into perspective for Backes.
“I got the message that he was responsive,” Backes added. “It was kind of perspective-giving in that, if that’s me on the ice, my wife and my parents and my kids are seeing that … I didn’t know Scott from anybody in the world before that incident.
“He’s got a fiancée, his parents were watching, he’s a hometown Ottawa kid and that’s gotta be extremely scary and I feel for all those people and, at the same time, worried about my own health with a long history of hits like that happen. I’ve been in good hands. The guys that have gone through 12 years of (medical) schooling tell me I’m ready to go and I’m excited.”
After a frustrating recovery and plenty of thinking, Backes is ready to play hockey again.
“I’m just going through the process of what the doctors are telling me and trying to get back as soon as possible,” Backes said. “Some of that comes quicker, some of it has been fits and starts, but feeling really great as of 10 days ago. I feel like more myself and I couldn’t be happier to now be a full go and hopefully playing contact hockey against a different team in short order.”