Earlier this week, Boston Bruins veteran David Backes revealed that he had recently spoken with head coach Bruce Cassidy and essentially offered his services as the team’s enforcer. Fans were starting to wonder especially after Backes dropped the gloves with Michael Ferland of the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. While Ferland and Backes were dancing at centre ice, the commentators noticed that it was the Bruins forward's third fight in the last four games and that the 34-year-old seemed more eager to drop the gloves and be physical since then. Backes also dropped the mitts in front of Tampa Bay Lightning's Adam Erne on Feb. 28 and San Jose Sharks top enforcer Michael Haley on Feb. 26.
So pundits went wild, saying that Backes was being forced to fight and was putting himself in danger, he who a history of head injuries. And Backes has had enough.
On Thursday night, Backes reached out to The Hockey News and looked to clarify what he meant about his new role.
“I never said I wanted to be an enforcer,” Backes said. “And I think by having published articles in the minds of Joe Schmoe player, they think there’s an automatic fight with David Backes because he’s an enforcer and he’s willing to take on any takers. I’d like it clarified for my safety that I’m not saying, ‘I’m going to be the toughest guy in the NHL.’ I’m not looking for the NHL heavyweight championship belt. I’m a realist that, while I’m willing to do it, I’m not the best even in the middleweight class. I’m willing and I survive, but I’m not pounding anybody.”
Backes only wanted to tell his head coach that he wanted a bigger role on the team and to have a bigger impact than he has had since the start of the season. He has posted just five goals and 15 points for the Bruins in 55 games and has found himself as an occasional healthy scratch for the first time in his career this season.
“I said, ‘If the other team’s got a guy that’s playing in the top six like a Micheal Ferland who’s running around and you need some meat on there, I feel like I’m being looked over for some reason rather than giving me the opportunity to settle him down while being used in a top-six role,’ ” Backes said. “That was more the premise of my comment. And (Cassidy) said, ‘With your history, I didn’t know if that was something you were still interested in.’ It’s always been a part of my game. I think if that’s not part of my game, I lose some of my effectiveness.”
Other players on the Bruins' lineup are being trusted with the menacing offense, and so Backes was only looking at ways he could fill the void.
“I’d love to play 18 minutes a game and score 20 goals a year,” Backes said. “Is that a likely possibility with the Boston Bruins, with the league trending the way it is, with me getting older? I don’t know if that’s the case. Three fights a year has pretty much been my average and maybe they were all clumped together. I’m not a fighter or an enforcer and I don’t know that I want that connotation.”