Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

David Backes talks suspension: 'That’s the world we live in'

Ty Anderson
March 08, 2018 - 2:05 pm

Even on the heels of the first suspension of his 12-year NHL career (a three-game ban handed down for his interference headshot to the Red Wings’ Frans Nielsen on Tuesday night), Bruins forward David Backes must admit that he likes his ratio.

Credited with a staggering 2,487 hits since the start of the 2006-07 season, which stands as the fourth-most in the NHL over that span, it was that aforementioned hit on Nielsen (and in Backes’ 848th NHL game) that finally landed him in hot water.

“I mean, you’ve gotta think, I’ve got 2,400 hits in this league over 12 seasons. I’ve never even had a hearing, let alone a fine, let alone a suspension,” Backes said after Thursday’s morning skate at TD Garden. “I had one call maybe eight years ago from Brendan Shanahan when he was in the Department of Player Safety. He just kinda called me and said, ‘You’re being an idiot. Stop being an idiot.’

“That seemed to be a pretty good reset for me.”

And the 33-year-old Backes, for what it’s worth, believes he’s remained largely within the rules of the game since then, and isn’t sure of the message sent with this ban.

“If we’re trying to teach a lesson or critique one out of 2,400 hits that I was trying to really avoid — and that’s kind of been acknowledged as well — I don’t know how effective that is,” said Backes. “That’s a small little decimal if you do the division.”

This was the case that Backes’ agent unsuccessfully made in Wednesday’s phone hearing, and with character backup from Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, too. And even with the odds appearing in his favor, Backes, a player rep involved in the competition committee and without an appeal for this three-game ban available (confirmed by Backes on Thursday), understands the difficult task of analyzing every hit.  

“That’s probably the hardest part about their job; there’s no two hits that are like, ‘Oh that’s cookie-cutter from the last one.’ There’s no two that are the same,” noted Backes. “So if it’s personally trying to change my game, I think if there’s one error in 2,400 hits like I said, by the time I get 2,400 more hits, I’ll be long out of the game.

“But I’m gonna keep playing my style. I’ve been able to do it cleanly, effectively, hard-nosed, stand up. I think we’re getting away from policing ourselves. The next guy [on the Red Wings] that asked me to fight from their team — big character — I oblige and answer the bell, and that used to account for something, too.”

Concluded Backes: “But that’s where we’re at [as a league], that’s the situation we’re in, and that’s the world we live in… as the league likes to say a lot.”

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