David Backes has been with the Blues organization his entire career and has been a mainstay in the team's lineup since the 2006-07 season, which now spans almost an entire decade. Any memory of any Blues team in the last ten years probably begins with an image of David Backes being on that team.
I preface this piece in this fashion because I don't actually believe the Blues will give David Backes the extension he seeks, because the motherfucker's getting paid elsewhere, both in term and in dollars. And while I'm not totally okay with this (which I will try to explain further later on down the line), I will understand it fully.
I also say this to vaguely illustrate just how strange it's going to be to watch the Blues sans Backes. He just seems like he should be on this team, right? He's always been there. He's pretty reliable, much like the old Bunn coffee maker at your office or an old record player on an old 45. You know he's going to be there, and you know it's going to work, so you just expect him to be there and you're on to the rest of your day.
So it would behoove the Blues to do what they can to keep David Backes with the team. I'm not looking for the team to break the bank or give him an eight-year contract. They probably can do one or the other, but not both. And given those options, I would rather the Blues shell out money in exchange for a shorter-term deal . . . but I doubt Backes or his agent agrees with that idea.
David Backes has been the Captain of this team since the beginning of the 2011-12 season. He has played hockey in a way that is worthy of being the Captain of a team that has been as good as it's been since that time (five playoff appearances, for those counting). Sure, his dumbfuck penalties at inopportune times can be maddening, but to get the good, you have to take the bad sometimes.
And he's represented the team on the score sheet as well. You could say that 2015-16 was his worst season statistically of this solid stretch of hockey. Some people will point to his age and his status as a power forward and say that it's a sign of his inevitable decline. I will rightfully acknowledge these folks are more than likely right about this. but 45 points in 79 games is still nothing to sneeze at from a guy in decline . . . not in this era of hockey. For his entire NHL career, he's averaged .63 points per game, and for most of it, he's been tasked to be the "shut-down" center against the other team's top line. That's not world-beating, but it sure as shit isn't bad either.
This is not to mention his prowess on the power play, his service on Team USA (including the upcoming
Long Drawn Out NHL Fart Noise To Open The Season World Cup of Hockey) and, oh yeah, his thing for adorable animals. Also, his hatred of all things Canada and the subsequent rising of some awesome t-shirts.
And while one of the knocks on Backes in the past was his inability to show up in the playoffs, I think he did what he could to try and make up for lost time in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, eh? 14 points in 20 games . . . I think that's pretty good. Someone tell me. Please.
Look, I don't want the Blues to break the bank for Backes, but if they give him a contract similar to the one given to Paul Stastny in the 2014 offseason and Backes accepts it, I'm not going to cry a fucking river over it. While such a contract would not help the Blues in the short-term, it may help both sides in the long run.
Let him walk, though, and you're letting a prime opportunity to keep a man who has clearly been loyal to you for a long time move on to other things. I'm not totally sure I'm okay with this, even if I'll be at peace with it if ( . . . okay, WHEN) it happens.
But I get the sense that someone like David Backes should get the opportunity to retire as a Blue, if he so chooses. I know the man would have no problem getting paid handsomely elsewhere, and he'll probably succeed at wherever he goes (and yes, as noted earlier, I'm resigned to the fact that he's gone). And I realize he would not get everything he wants in a contract from the Blues. But if the two sides make it work, there's no reason it can't work again.
So let it be. Let it happen. And let's keep the Captain around at terms that work for all sides.
(By the way . . . if you haven't already, you should also really check out Dan's write-up about Backes from very shortly after the season, as it gives a lot of thoughts as to why the Blues should keep the Captain around as well.)