David Backes left Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues full of emotions in what could likely be his final game playing in a city and in front of a group of fans that meant so much to him.
Now with the Anaheim Ducks, Backes played 10 seasons for the St. Louis Blues from 2006-2016. Among a list of accomplishments, he was the team captain from 2011-2016 and in 2016 he helped lead the Blues to their first Western Conference Finals appearance since 2001.
Backes, 37, is considering retiring after this season. The Blues honored him with a video tribute and fans gave him numerous standing ovations throughout the game.
“Such a special place — special place to play, special place to live, and to play what’s probably my last game in this building, in front of these fans in this building is how I would’ve written it if I could’ve written it, and I got to live it,” Backes told Bally Sports St. Louis after the game. “Very blessed, very appreciative.”
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 6, 2021
In his 15 seasons, Backes has scored 248 goals, to go with 313 assists. He was selected to three All-Star Games and represented Team USA twice, helping lead the team to the silver medal at the 2010 Olympics.
He’s been equally as impactful off the ice, too. He and his wife, Kelly, poured themselves into the community while in St. Louis, just as they have at all of his different NHL stops. For years they’ve served as board members at Five Acres Animal Shelter, a no-kill organization in the St. Louis area. They are also heavily supportive in the Starkey Hearing Foundation because of Kelly’s hearing impairment.
They are also vocal about their faith in Jesus. Backes spent four seasons with the Boston Bruins, and while there he and some of his teammates launched a Bible study that was open to anyone on the team. It grew into a strong community in their locker room, and when players went elsewhere they started Bible studies with their new teams.
Backes has often been praised for his leadership ability, a quality that helped start the Bible study.
“It started with [Bruins defenseman Adam] McQuaid and [Boston defenseman Kevan Miller], and myself,” Backes said in the Winter 2020 issue of Sports Spectrum Magazine. “And then all of a sudden it was like … next thing you know it’s eight to 10 guys at breakfast with a couple coming in and out based on whether they had treatment that morning; one of the trainers was getting involved. So it was just one of those things that I wanted to [pursue] … I was being intentional with trying to make an impact in the Kingdom while I had this new group of men to influence with Adam’s and Kevan’s assistance.”
The celebration of Backes on Wednesday also included a message from Kelly and the Backes children — Stella and Dawson.
“We’ve been your No. 1 fans and supporters over the last 15 years, and my goodness, what an amazing journey it has been,” Kelly said. “Being able to watch you play a game that you love and use your gifts and your professional platform for good truly has been a blessing. … We love you, David.”
His career has been marked by more success than failure, but he’s said that even in the moments of failure, his trust remains in Jesus.
“God’s got a plan,” Backes once told Hockey Ministries. “There have been failures. There’s going to be more failures, but to know that He’s doing work in me to set me up for something that’s great and still to come is a place where I’m able to relax.”
Backes hasn’t said for certain what his plans are following this season. But he’s said previously that he trusts in the Lord through every season.
“Having the Lord and knowing that He’s got me in this place for a reason, and that He’s ever-loving and ever-present,” Backes told Hockey Ministries. “He’s there for me and knows who I am and what’s in my heart.”
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