By keeping Ken Hitchcock around for another season, there’s a feeling that the St. Louis Blues are taking a pit stop at this fork in the road. They can’t push the “pause” button with every decision, however.
It doesn’t get much bigger than deciding whether to let your 32-year-old captain David Backes walk or ante up to keep him around.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong spoke to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a variety of off-season topics, including some comments that instantly seem like wishful thinking about Kirk Muller (Muller’s out, despite Armstrong’s hopes).
The veteran executive says that Backes is a “priority,” yet that’s also how he described re-signing Jaden Schwartz … and his full thoughts on Backes really keep us in the dark rather than shining a light on his thinking.
Armstrong on bringing back David Backes: “Yeah, he’s our captain. I’ve met with some players already and told them their importance and David is at the top of that list as far as unrestricted free agents. He’s been here 10 years, he’s got a vested interest in the leadership group. But he’s 32 years old and the market will bear what the market will bear, but ultimately our salary cap will bear what our salary cap will bear. There’s things I can potentially do with roster players here to open up some space. But I think what you’ve seen around the league, too, is if you get too aggressive, those contracts are sometimes difficult to maneuver around … I thought this year for sure, the NHL got faster. It just seemed like I came to the rink one day and it was fast, and it seemed to get quicker and quicker. So I think it’s trending into a younger-leg game. I think David’s got a lot of good years left in him, I’d love to keep him here, but it has to work out for David and his family first and foremost and then it has to work into our math equation. But he’s a priority.”
Interesting stuff, and the full article is worth reading.
Let’s break those thoughts down briefly:
- Armstrong says he values Backes’ leadership and thinks that “David’s got a lot of good years left in him.”
- At the same time, he seemed to hint at mixed feelings by mentioning how the NHL’s become a league “trending into a younger-leg game.” (Ah, sports phrasing is the best, isn’t it?)
- He also mentioned that “those contracts are sometimes difficult to maneuver around.”
So … that kind of sounds like he’s saying he wouldn’t mind bringing Backes back, yet he’s also sort of hedging his bets?
Long story short, the Backes issue remains a mystery. At least as far as we know.