Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Why Backes is perfect linemate for Frederic in NHL debut

Matt Kalman
January 29, 2019 - 1:18 pm

When he was about 9 years old, Trent Frederic won a contest sponsored by a local hair salon to take a postgame photo with a St. Louis Blues player.

David Backes did the honors.

Frederic and Backes crossed paths other times in St. Louis. Frederic went over Keith Tkachuk’s house when Backes was living there as a rookie. They played knee hockey.

Backes recalled considering buying Frederic’s family home when he and his wife Kelly were looking to move closer to the city.

Frederic was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (29th overall) in late June 2016. Shortly after Backes signed with Boston as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Destiny has seemingly brought them together on numerous occasions. When the Bruins host the Winnipeg Jets at TD Garden on Tuesday the most improbable meeting of the two – one with miniscule odds of happening back when they posed for their Great Clips photo – will take place. Frederic and Backes will be linemates for Frederic’s NHL debut.

“I think it’s certainly humbling to see that a kid, I think he was 9 when we took that [picture> … and from then to 12 years later playing on a line with the kid, that’s a small world, that’s pretty cool and hopefully that storyline continues and we have a good night together for his first game,” Backes said after the Bruins’ morning skate Tuesday.

If all their interactions over the years weren’t enough to make this an amazing tale of a role model and an idolizing kid, Frederic’s No. 1 influence on how he’s played the game – what got him drafted and helped him move up from the University of Wisconsin to the AHL to the NHL – was Backes.

“Growing up in St. Louis he was the best player, so who doesn’t want to play like the best player for your hometown team?” said Frederic, now 20 years old and standing 6-foot-2, 203 pounds. “So that was something I tried to play like and maybe it was a fluke that I started playing like him and then they’re like ‘you know you of kind of look like David Backes.’ And I was like ‘yeah, I like him’ and I guess that’s how I kind of got the comparison to him. Hopefully I can live up to that or something close to that. So that would be cool.”

Backes got to see Frederic play up close when the Bruins began their preseason schedule with two games in China. The similarities, other than Backes being a right-handed shot and Frederic shooting left, were obvious.

“I think he’s a big kid, no question,” Backes said. “I think we’ve got size in common. He’s playing center ice, which I did earlier in my career. … I think we see the game the same where it’s outwork your opponent, be stronger, win more battles and have the opportunities in quantity and the law of averages will pay off in the long run.”

We’ll see how it plays out, but it would sure seem the Frederic-Backes pairing would be picture perfect.

Rask recovering

Tuukka Rask, who was placed on injured reserve Monday, skated before the Bruins practiced on Tuesday. He’s day-to-day with a concussion and coach Bruce Cassidy said there’s a chance Rask could be available Thursday when the Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers.

Zane McIntyre will back up Jaroslav Halak against the Jets.

Nordstrom’s ready

Joakim Nordstrom will miss his 10 straight game but he’s been medically cleared to play. Nordstrom missed the past nine games with a fractured fibula.

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