BOSTON — David Backes never has been afraid to throw his weight around for his teammates, even when it requires some fisticuffs.
The Boston Bruins veteran has become the team’s de facto enforcer of late, dropping the gloves in three of his last four games.
On Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes, Backes once again played policeman on the ice, squaring up with Micheal Ferland in the first period after a massive hit by Ferland forced Marcus Johansson out of the game in the first period.
Backes later revealed his recent enforcing is a result of a conversation with Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy during the team’s Western Conference road trip. Tuesday was another opportunity for Backes to show his value with physicality.
“You have to stick up for your teammates,” Backes said after the game. “Tonight’s hit, which was a hard, clean hit, but if guys are running at our skilled guys we need to hold them accountable and I thought there was an opportunity for me to step up and you know, fill that role.
“I asked Butchy (Cassidy) when we were in Vegas and we had a meeting if I could be put in roles or places that would have a bigger impact on games and you know, whether that’s with my gloves off or my gloves on I think he’s provided me those opportunities and hopefully I’ve done my job for him.”
Backes has five goals and nine assists for the Bruins in 54 games this season and has found himself as an occasional healthy scratch for the first time in his career. But Backes is a valuable leader for the Bruins and is proving he can be productive outside of the score sheet.
But the veteran has a history of head injuries, which concerns his coach a bit when he sees Backes drop the gloves.
“Listen, they’re human beings first, and when you coach them every day that’s always a concern,” Cassidy said. “But David, I think, is grabbing onto an area of the lineup where he feels he can contribute. So, we really appreciate that as a staff and the players do too, that he’s putting himself in harm’s way for the good of the team, and that’s leadership.”
Backes doesn’t show as much concern for his well being.
“My wife probably does, but that can’t be a thought in your head when you’re out playing in the NHL,” Backes said. “You know, I guess it’s a calculated decision and if I’m going to stay part of this team and stay a part of a winning team, that’s maybe going to be part of my role and I’m okay with it. It’s sticking up for each other, sticking together again. It’s a staple of what we do here.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images