After much speculation from fans, the St. Louis Blues finally announced their 20th captain in team history on Friday. To no fans surprise the honor has fallen to forward David Backes.
Backes has been with the organization since he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Backes has been through the ups and downs of the organization and has not only weathered the storm but grown stronger because of it. Backes made it to the NHL in 2006 and has not looked back, enjoying success not only on the NHL stage but also the International one as well.
Backes is coming off of a career year in St. Louis after faring well in the 2010 Olympic Games. Backes was chosen for Team USA and made a name for himself with his physical style of play and his willingness to do anything for the win. This carried over to the NHL season as Backes led the team in goals and plus minus.
Backes, the 20th team captain in Blues history, takes over for Eric Brewer after his five year run as captain ended with his trade to Tampa Bay at last seasons trade deadline. Backes will join such greats as Bernie Federko, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, and Bobby Plager among others in the ranks of Blues captains.
The Blues also named four alternates who will rotate between home and away games. Among those named were Barret Jackman, the longest tenured Blue; past Stanley Cup Champs Jamie Langenbrunner and Andy McDonald; and former first round pick of the Maple Leafs Alex Steen.
These four will bring veteran leadership to young team who needs to be shon how to win. While it seems odd to have four alternates, having all of these veterans in leadership spots will be a boon for the youth on the team as they all have different personalities. If a young player feels comfortable with one guy over another it won’t hurt team morale if he goes to that guy and not the designated Alternate.
The Blues are also using these veterans to allow players like Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk to hone their games before being saddled with the responsibility of the Captaincy or Alternate positions. While these players will be great leaders in the future, now is the time for them to become well rounded players too.
The upcoming season should be a great one and with these leaders on the ice for the Blues, it should be the greatest chance for them to make the playoffs too. Backes was the consensus pick by fans and media alike and management got it right. Now its time for this team to return the favor and win some Cups.