David Backes is still very clearly beloved by Blues fans. I’m not sure that how people feel about him has ever been in doubt, but if you were curious to see if there was still a bond between fans in St. Louis and the man that they dubbed Captain America before the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, all you had to do was watch last night’s tribute.
And then all you had to do was see David Backes’ reaction:
The tribute video was nice. His reaction to it? Are you supposed to see your heroes cry?
The bond between St. Louis and David Backes is unshakable. He was drafted by the Blues. He played here for ten seasons, captaining the Blues for five. Few players embodied the typical Blues work ethic like Backes did. He put his nose to the grindstone, never half-assed it, and worked hard for his team. Fans, of course, loved him for it. They obviously still do.
While I had my moments of frustration with Backes over the years (sometimes, to me, his frustration could cross an unproductive line), it was always more than apparent that leading by example was his strong suit, on and off of the ice. Backes’ charitable efforts, especially Athletes for Animals (which is still headquartered here in St. Louis), speak to his love of community and his focus on service.
When Backes left the Blues to sign as a free agent with the Boston Bruins in 2016, it left a bitter taste in some fans’ mouths. Backes left for more money and for a longer term, for security. In the long run, it was the right move for both Backes and the Blues. He never burned any bridges here, and talked to NHL.com about his thoughts during game seven - either the Bruins win, or at least St. Louis gets the Cup.
So where do the Blues go from here with Backes? Would they offer him a job a la Barret Jackman? Will the city of St. Louis work its magic on retired players and welcome him back with open arms? Backes hasn’t even officially retired yet, and we don’t know what next steps he’d like to take for himself and his family.
What we do know is if he ever wants to come back to where it all started, there’s a place for him. He’s part of a brotherhood of Blues’ alumni, and if what was on display during the 2019 Stanley Cup run is any indication, it’s a brotherhood any player should feel honored to be a member of. His legacy is as meaningful as any of the 19 captains who came before him, or the two that have come after, and coincided with the development of the Blues into a contender and a renaissance after several miserable seasons in the mid-2000s, and that is not a coincidence.