Fall 2021 SS Magazine

Boston's David Backes putting friendships with former teammates aside during Stanley Cup Finals

David Backes is with the Boston Bruins now, but he spent the first 10 seasons of his NHL career helping to reverse the fortunes of another franchise: the St. Louis Blues.

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And now the very same St. Louis Blues that Backes helped build are caught in an intense Stanley Cup Finals series tied 2-2 with none other than Backes’ current team.

“I wish it was alternating years, so I could cheer for the Blues one year and they could win a Cup, and we could have our opportunity and they could cheer me on, and we could all have one to our names. But it’s come to this: them or us,” Backes told ESPN.

Backes was drafted by the Blues in 2003 and first joined the team 2006. Back then, the Blues were synonymous with futility. By the time he left in 2016, they had become perennial Stanley Cup contenders. Backes poured in 460 regular-season points during his 10 seasons in a Blues jersey, and was rewarded by being named the team captain in 2011. Yet for all of Backes’ production, none of his Blues teams ever reached the Finals. In fact, the Blues franchise has never won a Stanley Cup either, and hasn’t reached the Finals since 1970.

Now, they’re both so close to an accomplishment neither has tasted. Only they have to go through each other to get there.

“Friends on the St. Louis Blues are now cut off, officially,” Backes said. “If they text me, it’s going to fall on deaf ears.”

Such a statement is to be expected from an NHL competitor with the singular goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup. For Backes, however, that means cutting off 11 former teammates who were on the team when he left in 2016, including one of his best friends, Alex Pietrangelo, who replaced him as captain.

“Oh, I would say that they have a great friendship,” said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong in the ESPN article. “They’re both great men off the ice, great family men; they shared a lot of the same values away from the rink.”

Both Backes and Pietrangelo have been featured in videos with Hockey Ministries International, a Christian-based ministry serving all levels of hockey.

“In my faith walk, I’ve needed to surrender and recognize He has a bigger plan for me,” Backes told FCA Magazine in 2016. “This is not my own will, and I am right where He wants me to be.”

Backes is trusting in the Lord and His infinite wisdom as he prepares for a crucial Game 5 against Pietrangelo and his other former teammates. Either Backes or the team he helped build will win a Stanley Cup, and both sides are putting all feelings on hold to make sure they’re the ones who end up on top.

“We both have a job to do. And we both have the same goal at the end,” Pietrangelo said to ESPN. “We’re going to go out there and do what we have to do.”

Game 5 between the Bruins and Blues will be in Boston on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

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