The tale of David Backes is going to be two very different parts that earned him this grade.
When David Backes is on his game, is in the right frame of mind and in the right shifts, he can play the prototypical power forward style Boston fans so dearly love.
Tenacious, strong on the puck, wicked shot, will happily stand up for his team using his fists or his body, and in general embodies for a lot of people what it means to be a Boston Bruin. When he, Krejci and [NAME HERE] were rolling in an offensive shift they were rolling, and a lot of it usually started with, or could be attributed to Backes being able to create space when previously there might not have been any, make short but sweet passes to create second opportunities, and keeping the defense preoccupied with trying to keep him from moving. And of course, an opportunistic streak that made him a real nightmare to make mistakes against.
His vocal leadership style charmed the team to the point that he ended up with an “A” in year one, and he was more than willing to back that up with a fist or two. Yes, David Backes could be everything Don Sweeney asked him to be and more.
But that’s when David Backes was on his game.
When he wasn’t on his game...David Backes drove fans crazy.
And I freely admit, a lot of it is eye test-y stuff. Not everyone saw the same thing and that’s magic of the eye test: it’s different for everyone. However, the other half is how his metrics came out, and they are not flattering to him.
There were few things more pointless than a Backes net-front presence because he'd barely be able to hit rebounds home himself because he’d get too involved in a shoving match. His back check is mostly lots of shoving and jostling and when he finally has the puck he was known to turn it over at the worst possible time or make a bad, weak pass that doesn’t go tape-to-tape. For a good portion of the year the single reason boston was having so much penalty trouble was because Backes was averaging almost two minors a night. This was only made worse by the fact that his point total was beaten by a player a lot of people didn’t even like all that much on a line that was regarded as disastrous, regardless of what strength Boston was playing at. Brad Marchand at one point had as many goals as he had points.
David Backes is, as I’m sure you’re gonna hear for the rest of his time here, being paid an average of 6 million dollars a year to be here in Boston until he is at least 36 years old. There are players in division that are younger, taking a fraction of the cash, and didn’t even make the playoffs that performed better than he did. He needs to be at the very least matching his contemporaries until 2019, when he submits an eight team list.
If not, then he could show all the leadership qualities in the world and still not be able to justify the tumor his contract will become. Being able to yell over the crowd with charisma doesn’t excuse not being able to sign a young rookie who might be outperforming him.
But for right now? He’s matching at least most of them. When Backes was at his best, he can be one of the best players on the Bruins for a wicked shot and a scrappy shift to create space. He is absolutely one of the most gung-ho bruins about defending his team, and willing to get into the thick of play. On top of that, Backes’ was more than willing to go back to the well of assist first during the playoffs, getting three assists and scoring a key goal in the first round we can happily thank him for making the most of his line’s unfortunate circumstances.
Backes earned his way into the hearts of many fans...but also into the shitlists of just as many others. Time will tell if he can make this 38 points thing a benchmark for improvement, or a bar he just can’t clear.
Games Played: 74
1 goal - 3 assists - 4 points
Final Regular season CF%: 55.86%
What do you think of Backes’ grade?
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