September 10 — Posting Panthers & David Backes Retires

Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 32 days

Wednesday’s Wheelhouse

LAST RESORT: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is expected to miss the start of the regular season after having surgery on his left wrist. GM Ron Hextall said Crosby, who faces a six-week recovery, has been dealing with the injury for years and surgery was the best option.

FIERY REUNION: Brad Richardson signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday. The 36-year-old forward and Flames head coach Darryl Sutter go way back, winning the 2012 Stanley Cup together as members of the Los Angeles Kings.

TROPHY TRIBUTE: Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzļikins intends to win the Vezina Trophy this season in honor of goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who tragically died on July 4 due to a firework accident.

PATIENT PATRICE: Patrice Bergeron won’t sign a new deal with the Boston Bruins during the 2021-22 season. Entering the final season of his contract, the 36-year-old captain doesn’t plan to assess his playing future until next summer.

Thursday’s Tap-in

FOREVER ENSHRINED: USA Hockey announced its 2021 Hall of Fame class, which is comprised of Paul Holmgren, Peter McNab, and Stan Fischler. They will be inducted together with the class of 2020 during a ceremony in December.

LET’S GET KRAKEN: Jordan Eberle, Philipp Grubauer, and Brandon Tanev took to the ice in an informal workout at the opening of the Seattle Kraken’s practice facility. Set to have a major impact on the city of Seattle, the Kraken Community IcePlex will not only host NHL practices but also a variety of youth hockey and learn-to-skate programs.

DON’T SWEAT IT: The Toronto Maple Leafs won’t lose any sleep over the NHL’s newly implemented COVID-19 policies after general manager Kyle Dubas stated that every member of the Leafs will be fully vaccinated to start the season.

Top Shelf Thursday – Top David Backes Moments

David Backes #42, St. Louis Blues versus the Dallas Stars – April 29, 2016 (Annie Devine/ The Hockey Writers)

David Backes returned to where it all began to sign a one-day contract in order to retire with the St. Louis Blues. The 37-year-old Minnesota native was drafted 62nd overall in the 2003 Draft and spent his career with the Blues, Boston Bruins, and Anaheim Ducks. Let’s take a look back at some of the best moments of his career.

A Pair of OT Winners

Before the Blues raised the Cup in 2019, Backes led the team to the Western Conference Final as the captain in 2016. He opened the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks by scoring the overtime goal in a scoreless Game 1. The 6-foot-3 forward was once again the OT hero in Game 2 of the second round, when he buried home a rebound during the man advantage against the Dallas Stars. That postseason, Backes registered 14 points in 20 games before the Blues fell two games shy of the Stanley Cup Final.

Saving Sochi Strays

Can we get some stick taps for David and his wife Kelly? The family is known for their work with animal rescue organizations and made headlines during their time in Sochi at the Olympics. They brought a couple of stray puppies back to the States that were roaming the Russian city and helped find them rescue homes in the St. Louis area. In 2013, David and Kelly started Athletes for Animals, a “united team of professional athletes with a shared passion for rescuing and protecting the welfare of homeless pets nationwide.”

Meet Me in St. Louis

It’s clear Backes was loved in St. Louis. When he returned to Enterprise Center for the first time with the Bruins, he received a warm welcome from the home crowd. The smile on his face during his tribute video said it all.

If that moment doesn’t tug at your heartstrings, I enter into evidence exhibit B—his last game in St. Louis. Wearing a Ducks jersey as he waved goodbye to the Blues faithful was odd, but the tears, standing ovation, and hugs from his former teammates made for a hallmark moment.

Panthers Give it the Ol’ College Try

Of all the potential businesses to jump on board after the NCAA announced that college athletes are allowed to pursue sponsorship opportunities, who would’ve expected an NHL team to be in the mix? Make no mistake, though, the pairing of the Florida Panthers and student-athletes at nearby Florida Atlantic University has the potential to be a lucrative partnership.

The deal represents a cool, exciting chance for the FAU Owls’ female varsity athletes to earn some cash, but the Panthers certainly stand to benefit from the relationship, too. Let’s dig deeper to look into what each side gets out of this landmark agreement.

Florida Panthers

Panthers owner Vincent Viola is a billionaire businessman, so let’s not pretend this is some kind of altruistic act as opposed to a shrewd, calculated move. The agreement is based partially on social media promotion, so targeting a group of prominent collegiate athletes with a significant social reach is a savvy play. If, for instance, FAU beach volleyball star Mackenzie Morris signs on, she brings an Instagram following of more than 6,000 people who would see her in Panthers gear. If that reach doesn’t prove as fruitful as expected, the Panthers are still gaining a nice PR boost by striking a relationship with a local campus and championing women’s sports.

FAU Athletes

Much simpler is the selling point for Owls players—tweet about Panthers hockey as a side hustle while scoring team gear and free tickets. I mean, why not?? It may not make them rich, but it’s pretty easy money.

The move, it seems, is already paying off. In a down period where few NHL teams are generating much buzz, Florida is grabbing headlines for what could be a groundbreaking marketing idea.