BRIGHTON, Mass -- David Backes has been as advertised for the Bruins after signing a five year deal over the summer to leave his elevated position as team captain with the St. Louis Blues. The 32-year-old has missed a bit of time already this season with an elbow procedure, but has brought the physicality, intensity, versatility and leadership to the B’s, and done so while starting to finish on the promise offensively as a top-6 forward.
So it’s a good thing he’s fully found his game as he readies to face his former team, the Blues, for the first time at TD Garden on Tuesday night for what’s sure to be an emotional match against the only other NHL team he’s ever known. Backes joked that he was just hoping to shoot pucks at the correct goalie given the kind of hockey identity crisis that might go down once the puck is dropped, but he didn’t hide the kind of mixed emotions he’ll be fighting against his former hockey family.
“I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions. You relish the opportunity to play your old team, but at the same time it’s unfamiliar territory. I’m going to see a lot of familiar faces out there. I met a couple of them for dinner last night,” said Backes, who has three goals and seven points along with a plus-9 rating in 13 games for the Bruins this season. “I just want to stay in the moment and do whatever I can to help our team win. Afterwards we can shake hands, give each other hugs and wish each other the best moving forward.
“There are a lot of good people over there and a lot of good friends, but we’re wearing different jerseys tonight. I think they’re well aware, and I’m well aware there are going to be no punches pulled. There are two points on the line for two teams that are playing pretty well right now, and it’s going to be a battle of wills to see who gets the two points out of the game.”
It will be interesting to see just how physical that the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, Boston’s leader with 42 registered hits this season despite having missed five games, gets with his former Blues cohorts, and if he goes a little further on the edge than usual given the high level of emotion sure to felt during the on-ice reunion. That doesn’t even mention any addition hard feelings Backes might have toward the Blues organization for essentially cutting him loose after ten plus years spilling blood, sweat and tears for the St. Louis organization.
Backes clearly seems happy in Boston, but he might just have a thing or two to show the Blues as their former leader suiting up against them for the very first time in his career.