David Backes signs with Bruins in NHL free-agent surprise

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues (R) celebrates with Jaden Schwartz #17 after scoring a first period goal against Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks (not pictured) in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

David Backes has carved out a reputation in the NHL over the last 10 seasons with the St. Louis Blues as a rugged, blue-collar player.

So naturally, as he leaves the Blues as a free agent, he joins the NHL’s epitome of the blue-collar aesthetic, the Boston Bruins.

“Just the ideology those players have. They’re all-in. That mentality,” said Backes on TSN on Friday, after signing a five-year, $30-million deal. “It was a fit on all accords.”

Backes played 79 games with the Blues last season, scoring 21 goals and 24 assists. He had 460 points in 727 games with the Blues, who drafted him No. 62 overall in 2003. Backes has been a Selke Trophy finalist and finished fourth in the voting twice.

The Bruins were flush with cash heading into the summer. Backes, 32, gives Boston one of the deepest groups at center in the NHL: David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Backes. (In the case of the latter two, they have a pair of the best defensive centers in hockey.) And when you have to get past a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Nick Bonino to win the Cup, well, there you do.

But again: He’s 32. This is a five-year deal, and Backes has played a heavy game for most of his career. He’s proven durable, for sure, missing just 16 games since 2008. I guess Bruins fans should be happy this isn’t seven.

The other part of this story is that Backes, a great solider for St. Louis for years and a vital piece of their playoff run last season, is taking what we assume are a few dozen rescue dogs and moving to Boston.

“There have a lot of sleepless nights, short sleep nights, hoping something would get done in St. Louis,” said Backes.

“That’s their right. And this is my right as an unrestricted free agent.”

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.