ST. LOUIS–As a young player, David Backes said he can remember veterans in the St. Louis Blues locker room telling him that a hockey career goes fast, to enjoy it.
“Like every kid who doesn’t listen, just yeah, yeah, yeah and all of a sudden you’re not the young guy in the locker room,” Backes said Wednesday morning, now in his 16th and likely final NHL season, ahead of what will most likely be his final appearance in St. Louis as the Anaheim Ducks finish up a series with the Blues at Enterprise Center Wednesday night.
With age and injury, Backes has played in just 36 games over the past three seasons split between the Ducks and the Boston Bruins, where the forward and former St. Louis captain landed after signing a free agent contract to leave the Blues following the 2015-2016 season.
The Blues honored former Goalie Ryan Miller, also now with Anaheim who announced his retirement effective at season’s end, with a video tribute earlier this week, and it’s a safe bet to assume it will be an emotional night for Backes as well.
“There will be some special emotions and special feelings being out there knowing it’s likely my last tour through the building as a player, gonna soak that all in, every moment of it every time I get to touch the ice and do something out there, gonna try and make the most of it and really imprint all the memories and probably have some old memories flood back in, but being on the other bench, certainly,” Backes told reporters after a morning skate on the Enterprise ice also brought back random memories of goals and moments past.
While Backes was the opponent on the Boston club the Blues defeated to finally win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup, he said Wednesday that he took pride in putting the foundation together that ultimately reached that pinnacle, and that when he departed, the Blues were in a better place than when he arrived.
How will fans react?
“It’s not a meaningless game,” Backes said. The Blues can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a regulation win by the Kings over Arizona. “So there’s a lot of reason to have a raucous crowd and I remember that raucous crowd when it was for me in St. Louis it gave me a lot of energy and propelled us to a lot of victories so I would expect them to cheer for the Blues. But maybe the old guy’ll figure something out and is able to have some success tonight and maybe it’s a little warmer than a typical opposition having success tonight.”
Regardless of what happens Wednesday, Backes said his “mental scrapbook is very full.”