Bruins forward David Backes has a plan for when teammate David Pastrnak arrives at training camp this weekend.
Pastrnak was an unsigned restricted free agent before he signed a six-year, $40 million contract yesterday. He now has to travel here from his home in the Czech Republic and will miss the first practices today at Warrior Ice Arena.
“We’ll get that kid across the sea and make him do all the testing, hopefully with all of us watching, a little hazing for the like 20-, 30-minute holdout,” Backes said yesterday after the rest of the Bruins began training camp with their off-ice testing. “So we’ll give him a hard time for that. So it’s great to see everyone will be here and we’ll go full power into the season.”
Jokes like that are what make Backes valuable to a Bruins team that seems to annually undergo a reduction in the average age of its players. Backes, 33, has only been with the Bruins one season but he’s a former captain of the St. Louis Blues and his teammates know they can lean on him for guidance, motivation and camaraderie building.
But Backes is entering the second year of the five-year, $30 million contract he signed July 1, 2016, and the necessity for him to increase his production is no laughing matter. It’ll be vital for the Bruins, in their attempt to build off last season and their first playoff berth in three seasons, to get more than the 17 goals and 21 assists they got from him last season.
Backes, who had 21 goals and 24 assists the season before in his last year with the Blues, believes his sophomore Boston season will be easier now that he’s more accustomed to the Hub.
“I don’t know if it’s something to prove. I think it’s more of a focus on playing hockey and being the best hockey player I can,” Backes said. “While I wouldn’t say that wasn’t my focus last year, I also had some peripheral items, changing cities for the first time in 10 years, to take care of. I think those things are taken care of and now we can play hockey and that’s going to be the focus.
Backes might also benefit from a schedule that isn’t being tightened by World Cup of Hockey, like last season, or an Olympic Games.
“I think the schedule not being as compressed lends itself to playing a heavier harder game on a regular basis, where you’re going to have time to recuperate and regenerate in between to go do it again. With a bigger body that likes to play in the hard areas, that time is certainly welcome,”…