Backes emotional at chance to win a Cup after 'thinking about it for a long time'

Backes emotional at chance to win a Cup after 'thinking about it for a long time'

RALEIGH, N.C. – David Backes waited 13 seasons and 928 regular-season games for it, and now the 34-year-old Bruins forward is going to the Stanley Cup Final for the very first time in his distinguished, standout NHL career.

Certainly a chance at a Cup was part of the reason he signed a five-year contract with the Bruins in free agency, and the scenario coming to life left him with a massive grin on his face after the Cup Final-clinching win.

It also left him emotional in the moments that followed the victory as the reality set in that he was realizing one of his long-held NHL dreams. 

“I’ve thought about this moment for a long time, of playing for that ultimate prize you dream of when you’re a kid. Now it’s reality. It’s us against one other team, and one of us is going home with that Stanley Cup,” said Backes, who was then asked if this Cup Final could become a ‘Win one for Backes’ type of affair given that so many veteran B’s players already have Cup wins on their resume. "We’re concentrated on the Boston Bruins winning a Stanley Cup. With this group of brothers we’ve created here, we’re all in for our team, and whoever the opponent is, we’re gonna face them head on."

Backes wasn’t a big impact player in Boston’s 4-0 win in Game 4 over the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Thursday night while clocking under 10 minutes of ice time, but he’s made a positive impact on the B’s during their playoff run. He certainly brought some physical thump to the lineup in the first round against the Maple Leafs, and the B’s won three in a row vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets after he was inserted into the lineup for the second round.

Backes scored a goal in Game 2 of the conference final against the Hurricanes, and has a solid two goals and five points in the 11 games he’s suited up for during the postseason. So the hard-nosed, hard-hitting power forward certainly played a role in the Black and Gold getting to this point in the postseason, and it’s something his teammates are appreciative of while they’d clearly love to win a Cup for him after all this time.

“It was awesome to see the passion and the emotion that he had on his face after this game,” said Brad Marchand. “He’s been such a huge part of our group. He’s such a great leader. We build so much emotion off the way that he plays, and he’s such a phenomenal guy and great teammate. He’s had an incredible career. When you see a guy that’s been around for that long and he hasn’t had an opportunity to play for a Cup, and then he finally has that opportunity? It’s a lot of emotions.

“When you play in this league for a long time, you start to appreciate and understand how hard it is to win, and how few opportunities you get to win that Cup. We have that opportunity to play for it this year and you can see how excited he was. It was awesome to see.”

The best part of all of this is still yet to be decided.

Obviously it’s a great story if Backes finally gets that Cup he’s been chasing for more than a decade, and he's going to do that against the St. Louis Blues team that he captained prior to jumping to Boston. In a Stanley Cup Final where storylines and narratives rule the day, that will be one of the best ones for the Bruins. 

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NHL sets 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5, $1.5 million lower than expected

NHL sets 2019-20 salary cap at $81.5, $1.5 million lower than expected

The NHL announced it's salary cap for the 2019-20 season Saturday at $81.5 million, which is $1.5 million lower than initial projections.

The Bruins are expected to have about $13 million in cap space, not counting free agents Danton Heinen, Marcus Johansson, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Noel Acciari and Brandon Kampfer. 

The Bruins will likely bring back McAvoy, Carlo and Heinen, but the lower cap figure may have an impact on the team's willingness to re-sign Johansson. One avenue the Bruins could take is offloading David Backes contract onto a team with the space to absorb it, but apparently, his deal is "impossible to move."

We'll see what this lower cap result ultimately does to the Bruins plans moving forward, but the last thing teams usually want around free agency is less money to spend. 

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Is David Backes' contract 'impossible to move'?

Is David Backes' contract 'impossible to move'?

In the wake of losing the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in seven games to the St. Louis Blues, the Boston Bruins are facing a tight salary cap situation that could prevent them from bringing back all of their talented players.

On paper, an easy move to free up some space would involve dumping David Backes. The 35-year-old was inactive for a good chunk of the team's postseason run and only had 20 total points last season. But Backes, set to make $6 million this season, has buyout protections in his contract and is due another $6 million in the 2020-21 season. And as one assistant GM pointed out, that makes the contract unmovable.

“Impossible to move,” said one assistant GM of Backes' contract to The Athletic's Fluto Shinzawa. “It would be a high-end pick plus a prospect. The only way is a bad contract for a bad contract.”

The Bruins certainly wouldn't like to pay that type of price to offload Backes. But that may mean some sacrifices elsewhere on the roster.

Right now, the Bruins have a few players on their roster set to hit restricted free agency. Young building blocks Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Danton Heinen are all due raises and potential long-term contracts moving forward. Additionally, key bottom-six players Marcus Johansson and Noel Acciari are going to be unrestricted free agents, and one would think that the Bruins would have an interest in bringing that duo back -- and Johansson in particular.

However, the Bruins don't have a lot of projected cap space. projects the Bruins to have just under $13 million in space. That may be enough to bring back the restricted players, but it may keep Johansson from rejoining the team.

While clearing Backes' contract could open the space needed to bring back Johansson, it simply appears to be too high of a price to pay to get rid of him. They have a lot of intriguing young talent in their system, so they may turn to them instead if they can't afford to keep some of the free agents on their roster.

Also, it's notable that throughout the offseason, Don Sweeney has praised Backes' veteran leadership and seems to think that he can still contribute. Backes may play on the fourth line and while $6 million would still be a pretty penny for a fourth-line player, at least the Bruins could use him and wouldn't have to sacrifice long-term assets to get rid of him.

We'll soon see if anything changes for the Bruins, but for the time being, it seems likely that Backes will be back for another season.

HAGGERTY: The pros and cons of bringing back Backes>>>

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