On May 5th, David Backes returned to St. Louis. Many fans speculated that it would be for the final time - after all, his future with the Anaheim Ducks was less than certain. As the game began, and then progressed, it became more and more clear that this was the former captain’s curtain call in the city that gave him his start in the NHL. Players who plan to hang around another season don’t get tribute videos from their family, they don’t get huge standing ovations from crowds, and they certainly don’t get as emotional as Backes did during the handshake line and post-game interview. Chosen as first star of the game, Backes showed appreciation to the fans and franchise at a level that few former players are ever given the opportunity to do.
An outstanding tribute can be emotional even for a tough old-school hockey player like David Backes. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/bCIFeS6PBb— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 6, 2021
Nearly immediately after the game concluded, Blues fans on Twitter had a request: David Backes needed to retire a member of the St. Louis Blues. It’s rare that players and front offices do exactly what fans want them to do, but Backes and the Blues pulled it off.
Fifteen years after the start of his NHL career, and eighteen years after being drafted by the Blues, David Backes is retiring where it all began. He’s a St. Louis Blue again, at least for today.
I am so grateful to have lived out my dream of playing in the @NHL So many amazing moments and connections along the way. Back with the @StLouisBlues where it all began. #BlessedAndGrateful https://t.co/CIXkmdddJg— David Backes (@dbackes42) September 9, 2021
David Backes’ post on stlouisblues.com is a lovely tribute to St. Louis, the fans here, the Boston Bruins, the Ducks, and Backes’ family.
Following my last game, it was clear to me that I needed to retire as a member of the St. Louis Blues. That night reiterated that St. Louis was my home. It is where my wife and I grew into adulthood and it was the organization we needed to retire with. The feeling was mutual with the Blues and I am so humbled that this journey has come full circle for me to end this amazing ride with the same organization that called my name at the draft 18 years ago.
During game seven of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, David Backes was in the press box. What was he thinking?
“Part of me during that Final said ‘I’m going to either win a Cup with Boston or St. Louis is going to get the Cup they’ve wanted for so long.’”
Thank you Captain, and welcome home.