David Backes wasn’t in need of any more motivation this summer — given how his 2018-19 campaign ended.
Tabbed as a healthy scratch for the first time in 12 years back in January, Backes quickly became a man without a line on the Bruins — with the 35-year-old veteran unable to play at the pace necessary for top-six reps, while also struggling to earn consistent minutes on a deep bottom-six corps featuring the likes of Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Noel Acciari and Joakim Nordstrom.
Backes has taken his lumps over three seasons in Boston — suffering multiple concussions, a bout of diverticulitis, colon surgery and a skate blade to the leg, to name just a few ailments.
But all that pain became secondary to what Backes experienced on June 12, 2019, as he watched from high above the TD Garden ice as his former team — the St. Louis Blues — beat the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to clinch the franchise's first championship.
Backes, who had captained the Blues for five seasons, was scratched for the final three games of the series.
Diagnosing his own future in Boston as being ‘in flux’, Backes returned home to Minnesota at a bit of a crossroads — but committed to extending his career and making good on the five-year, $30 million contract he inked with the Bruins back in 2016.
“I think the way it ended, it kind of lit a fire under me for the summer and I think I've put the work in. … Personally, I didn’t take any vacations in the summer," Backes said. "I limited my time, which is my little serenity time at our property and on my tractor to spend extra time in the gym and on the ice.”
But even during the quiet months of June and July, Bakes was dealt another blow.
On a day that started with a harmless game of shinny with some old high-school buddies, events transpired that had Backes feeling “maybe the most humbled I’d ever been in my life.”