After the Boston Bruins waived him Friday for purpose of assignment, veteran forward David Backes cleared waivers Saturday and was assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins. However, since Backes, 35, has been with the big club all season, he will not have to report to Providence until after the NHL All-Star break and the Bruins’ bye week that follows. Backes will then reevaluate his situation, as will the team.
“He will be afforded the same break that our other NHL players will get,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said following practice Saturday. “That was the deal with Donny [Sweeney]. They discussed that because he’s been here all year, which I believe is nine or 10 days. He’s not going to report to Providence and play this weekend or anything like that. Whatever happens from there, after the 10 days, Donny will have an update.”
Backes carries a $6,000,000 cap hit through the conclusion of the 2020-21 season. He is owed $1,000,000 in base salary this season and $3,000,000 during the 2020-21 season. Backes will earn a $1,000,000 signing bonus prior to his final season under contract. Backes will still carry a cap hit of $4,925,000 while in the minors, as per Cap Friendly. Should Sweeney attempt to deal Backes, he will have to abide by his limited no-trade clause.
On Friday, teammates expressed their sadness for a player they called “an ultimate warrior”.
“He’s a true professional, an ultimate warrior and a great teammate and guy,” Bruins winger Brad Marchand told BHN. “Unfortunately that’s the business side of things that is really shitty. He’s been an incredible teammate, can’t say enough good things about him. … He’s going to be missed in this room.”
As for why Backes was waived, Cassidy was respectful and yet blunt explaining to the media on Friday.
“We just felt a guy like Kuhly, or maybe Blidh down the road, has more pace to his game to … go that route with David,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said, referring to Karson Kuhlman and Anton Blidh. “So you’ve got a [Charis] Wagner in the lineup that plays that banging role on the fourth line, so he bumps into that, bumped into Ritchie moving to the third line. So there was a little bit of roster competition that we felt the other guys were a little ahead of him.
“So that’s how we best handled it. I know David doesn’t agree with the situation. But that’s a decision we made for the good of the team, and I respect David, like I said, as a person, as a player. We just felt we had better options and that’s how we’re going to go forward, see how it plays out.”
The veteran winger has played in just 16 games with the Bruins this season, collecting three points (1 g, 2 a). The former captain of the St. Louis Blues has been relegated to a depth role when he has been in the lineup. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound forward has played 944 career NHL games with the Blues and Bruins. Over the span, he has accumulated 554 points (245 g, 309 a).