With the news this week that David Backes was retiring from the NHL, it likely stirred up mixed feelings within the Boston Bruins fan base.
Certainly, there was respect for the hardnosed, tough brand of hockey that the 37-year-old Backes brought with him to the Boston Bruins from St. Louis, but there was also the regret of a heavy free agent contract that he was never going to be able to live up to in Boston. Eventually, the Bruins had to swallow hard and deal away a first round pick to get out from under his contract in the Ondrej Kase deal with the Anaheim Ducks a couple of seasons ago.
It certainly felt like mixed emotions for Backes as well when he discussed his four seasons with the Boston Bruins and his takeaways from his experience playing with the Black and Gold.
“Those years in Boston were…I’d say humbling in a few regards,” said Backes, during a Zoom call with reporters on Thursday after signing a one-day contract with the Blues ahead of his retirement. “I had spent the first 10 years of my career in St. Louis, so I’d never had to move, and once I knew the community relations guy, public relations guy, the security guard, the general manager, or the assistant general manager, or the training staff, those were my guys for 10 years. You might have to learn a new name, or a new face or get to know the six prospects that were in camp, but for me those were all new things [in Boston].
“You don’t bring those people with you when you go to the next city, so I really got a new respect for the guys that change teams frequently. And I had a new role when I got to Boston. I was no longer the captain, or the guy that was looked upon to be the clutch guy or play in big situations. There were guys that were already in those roles and doing really good jobs of it in Boston. So I had to be more of the supporting cast, and I think my time being in those roles helped me in how to be a supporting cast member and take direction from the leadership. Ask how I could help rather than wait to be told. Or grab some younger guys and have more quality time with them because when you’re a prominent leader guy, your time stretched so thin through so many different aspects. Sometimes you don’t have the time to deal with the smaller details and dealing with them is very important. On top of the on-ice component of less ice time and less critical minutes being played with the game on the line, it was humbling. But also, I wouldn’t trade it for anything and it circles back to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 where there was so much emotion wrapped up into that. Some people play 15 years and never play in a Stanley Cup Final, so I was grateful for that opportunity. As much as it was a bitter pill to swallow that year because I wanted to win a Cup, I was happy for St. Louis. At the same time, my guts were ripped out from getting so close and not winning it. The people that we did meet in the city of Boston were amazing, though. The people at the rink, at my daughter’s school…I was just back there going to Jimmy Hayes’ funeral, and I saw a lot of people that impacted me in my time there. The emphasis is that it’s the people that matter, and that was really the emphasis when I was back there [in Boston] last week.”
As always, Backes had plenty of good things to say about his time with the Bruins while in a reflective mood during his NHL retirement this week. Now on to the rest of the BHN Puck Links:
*A standing ovation for David Krejci after his first game in his native Czech Republic where he scored a goal. It looks like exactly what he was hoping for when he headed home. Pretty cool.
Standing ovation for David Krejčí after his first game for @hcolomouc
—————————————————@hcolomouc vs. @bkboleslav 3:2 after extra time.
DK46 1+0@NHLBruins @BDCBruins @HackswithHaggs pic.twitter.com/2bu1pf07Qc
— Jakub Vitonský (@Koubes74) September 10, 2021
*Congrats to Paul Holmgren on his induction to the US Hockey Hall of Fame this week. (Philly Hockey Now)
*Speaking of the US Hockey Hall of Fame, former Boston Bruins sniper Peter McNab was also amongst the Class of 2021 as well. (Boston Hockey Now)
*Can things work between Evander Kane and the San Jose Sharks moving forward? Boy, that’s the million-dollar question isn’t it. (San Jose Hockey Now)
*Are the New York Islanders interesting in Vladimir Tarasenko. It’s getting pretty murky about the whole thing right now. (NYI Hockey Now)
*Will there be life after Marc-Andre Fleury for the Vegas Golden Knights? (Vegas Hockey Now)
*Rookie camp has officially commenced with the Florida Panthers as Aaron Lundell gets his bearings in the Sunshine State. (Florida Hockey Now)
*Is this a “Show Me” Year for the core of the Pittsburgh Penguins? FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Kingerski certainly thinks so. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)
*It sounds like things will start heating up with Jack Eichel again as his new agents have started a conversation with Sabres management. (Sportsnet)
*For something completely different: You’ve got to love Fleetwood Mac, who are still fighting like wild cats and dogs after all these years. (LA Times)