It has been a tough last few seasons for veteran winger David Backes who has gone from being an impact power forward to someone who has cleared waivers multiple times, been moved in a salary cap dump trade, and has been a healthy scratch or on the taxi squad for large portions of this year. With his contract ending at the end of the season and the fact he turns 37 next weekend, his playing future is certainly in question. In a scrum with reporters today (video link), Backes strongly hinted at retirement when asked if hanging up his skates was a possibility:
Possibility…I’d say it’s more of a probability. But it’s not a certainty. That’s just kind of where I’m at. I’ve said it all year that every game you play in this league is a gift, every shift you play is a gift. It’s a great blessing to be able to play in this league.
I’ve taken a bit of notes from guys before me that in the emotions and the grind of a season to make a concrete, hundred percent decision is a difficult process. No offense to Brett Favre because he had a great career, but he retired six or eight times and still came back. I think when I say ’that’s enough,’ I’d like it to be enough and not have to go back and forth.
Backes was a second-round pick of the Blues (62nd overall) back in 2003 and became one of the more prominent power forwards in the league, notching six seasons of more than 20 goals and seven years of more than 200 hits. That helped him land a five-year, $30MM contract with Boston in the 2016 offseason, part of that ill-fated free agent class.
His role has deteriorated significantly the last two years as he managed to play in just 22 games in 2019-20 and has suited up just 14 times this season with the Ducks where he has collected three goals and an assist while averaging just under 13 minutes a night. If this is indeed his final season, he’ll wind up just shy of the 1,000 games played mark as he currently sits at 964, 18th among players selected in his draft class.
Backes indicated that a final decision won’t come right away but if it indeed winds up being the end of the road for him, his time in the NHL may not be done entirely as he noted that a job in a front office down the road could be in the cards. In the meantime, he still has eight games left to focus on this season although with Anaheim evaluating some of their youngsters, playing time may be scarce the rest of the way.