David Backes’ time with the Boston Bruins had its highs and lows, but ultimately it was an era he will remember fondly.
The longtime NHL forward officially announced his retirement Thursday, signing a one-day contract with the St. Louis Blues, the team he spent the majority of his career with.
After 10 years in St. Louis, Backes embarked on a different opportunity, signing a five-year deal with the Bruins on July 1, 2016. He scored 17 goals with 21 assists over 74 games in his first Bruins season, serving mainly in a top-six role. He followed that up with a 14-19-33 campaign in 2017-18 as he played just 57 games.
But Backes’ productivity dipped significantly in the 2018-19 season, which saw him yo-yo between middle-six, bottom-six and healthy scratch duties. He was forced to outplay younger and faster players to not only be in the lineup but also receive significant ice time.
After putting Backes on waivers, the Bruins traded him to the Ducks in February 2020, and he finished out his contract in Anaheim.
So, it was a chaotic run for Backes in Boston, which he addressed in his retirement letter.
“My stretch in Boston is something I am so grateful for,” Backes wrote. “It was an amazing group of men that I was able to play with and grow alongside of. Arriving there and being a complementary piece to the great core that had been there since they won the Stanley Cup in 2011 was an incredible learning experience for me. I learned about leading from the rear and was able to pour into teammates in ways I had never been able to do before. Our remarkable march to the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 was filled with some of the highest highs and lowest lows I have experienced in the game, but I am appreciative of all of them. I never thought I would so intimately live the words I said when leaving St Louis: ‘If the team I was playing on wasn’t going to win the Stanley Cup, I hoped it would be the Blues.’
“I found in the latter parts of my time in Boston that you can take something you would never ask for – like being a healthy scratch – and turn it into something good. It was a humbling lesson learned through sport that will permeate through life.”
Backes admitted that he thought his NHL career was over before the Ducks took a chance on him. Ultimately, a move to Anaheim allowed for him to play in 21 more NHL games, and receive a deserved sendoff in what proved to be his final NHL contest — which, coincidentally, came in St. Louis.