By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
Bruins forward David Backes will not play for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL-affiliate, according to the team. Boston placed Backes on waivers for the purpose of assignment to Providence on Jan. 17. The 35-year-old went unclaimed and cleared waivers on Jan. 18.
This morning, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney issued the following statement on Backes’ future:
“After speaking with David, we have agreed that it is in the best interest of David and the Bruins for him not to play in Providence at this time. David is fit and able to play, but in order to preserve all potential options for both David and the Bruins moving forward, we have decided this is the best course of action.”
Backes skated in 16 games for the Bruins this season, notching a goal and an assist to go along with a minus-two rating and 16 penalty minutes. The former St. Louis Blues captain is currently in the second-to-last year of a six-year contract with a $6-million cap hit. In 944 career NHL contests, Backes has 245-309-554 totals, a plus-67 rating, and 1,138 penalty minutes.
Sweeney offered no comment in reference to Backes’ long-term future or the organization’s plans for the forward, which leaves plenty of room for speculation. In any case, it seems to me as a perfect storm of an unfortunate set of circumstances.
For starters, through no fault of his own, Backes is vastly overpaid for what he brings to the table, which is something we already know and has been hashed out at length for several seasons, so there really is no need to dive back into that conversation. Making matters worse, Backes’ concussion history and overall decline due to age has led to the game passing him by, in a sense.
In my opinion, Backes could be evaluating the next steps for himself and his family, whether that is retirement or returning to hockey down the road. For the Bruins, Sweeney and co. could be looking at all possible options, whether it’s a buyout this offseason, figuring out how to fit Backes and his contract into a trade, or simply giving Backes space and time to sort out his future. Again, all of this is pure speculation on my part.
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