by Ron Spence
You think that Alain Vigneault’s pulling out his hair with Vancouver’s recurring “too many men on the ice” penalties.
Imagine if he had both Shane O’Brien and David Backes on his roster.
They are the NHL’s penalty leaders.
O’Brien has 120 minutes, while Backes has 113 – but has played four fewer games.
The Canucks’ Dman has 6 majors versus the Blues forward’s 5, O’Brien has 30 minutes of minor penalties and Backes 24.
Where Backes tops O’Brien is his 3 game misconducts [the most in the NHL] to Shane’s 1.
It was Backes’ 20 minutes in penalties a week ago – the result of his cross-check on Columbus’ Kristian Huselius – that jumped him into the top 2.
Backes could have been a Canuck, as Mike Gillis made a RFA offer to acquire the power forward last summer – 3 years at $2.5 million per year.
ASSETS: “[Backes] Has size, hockey sense, a nose for the net and plenty of grit and determination. Can play both center or wing.”
When Gillis made his offer last summer, Backes had played two seasons for St. Louis, netting 23 goals and 54 points in 121 NHL games. He had also finished third in the NHL with 3.3 hits per game (LA’s Dustin Brown led the league with 4.0 and Montreal’s Mike Komisarek had 3.6.).
Of his aggressive play, Backes says:
“I think … it will give myself and my teammates more time and that creates more offense, more goals, more wins. It’s part of my game, it’s part of what I’ve tried to establish and it’s one of those things that you can control because it’s really how hard you’re working . . . you can get to those hits and finish them. I’m proud to do it and I’m going to keep doing it this year … I think if you watch a guy like Dustin Brown, he hits like a truck but he’s using those hits to get him more space, intimidate the other team and put 30 goals in the net. Am I going to be able to do that? I hope so. Can I tell you that for sure I’m going to? I don’t think I can make that statement now, but I’m going to do everything in my power to be more productive offensively and make a big contribution to this team.”
Backes is a tough kid and plays according to the code.
“If somebody questions how tough I am or respectful I am,” Backes said. “I’ve got (Hjalmarsson) down and I’m banging the top of his head and I could have thrown a few uppercuts in there. One ref jumps in and I stop and let the kid go. The point was proven. There’s no reason to really feed the guy his lunch, ruin his face … do anything crazy like that.”
Backes played for Team U.S.A. at two World Championships. In 2007 he had 1 goal with 2 assists and 6 penalty minutes in 7 games, and last spring he had 1 assist and 35 penalty minutes in 6 contestss.
Many remember his fight against Finland’s Anssi Salmela.
Vancouver had first tried to acquire Backes via a trade.