Blues show Backes friendships are on hold during Cup Final


David Backes wasn’t lying when he said he’d hate his former teammates and friends on the St. Louis Blues for the duration of the Stanley Cup Final.

For the Blues, the feeling was mutual in Game 1.

Much has been made about this Cup Final series, and one of the sidebars has been Backes facing the team he captained for five seasons and now trying to stop them from winning what he tried to bring to the city that drafted him in the second round in 2003.

“There are still some good friends, one of my best friends is the captain of this team,” Backes said prior to Game 1 on Monday. “I told him I love him now and will love him after, but I’m going to hate him for the next three weeks here. That’s a mutual decision; we’re going to battle our butts off for this ultimate prize and we’ll patch up whatever needs to be patched up afterwards.”


Alex Pietrangelo, who took over as the Blues captain when Backes left to Boston in 2016, sent a text to the latter saying that he guesses they’ll be friends again in a couple weeks.

Backes never responded.

“Like I say to everybody, we both have a job to do,” Pietrangelo said. “And we both have the same goal at the end. We’re going to go out there and do what we have to do.

Backes just straight up cut off any and all on the Blues.

“Friends on the St. Louis Blues are now cut off, officially,” Backes said during media day in Boston. “If they text me, it’s going to fall on deaf ears, and if they get a text back, it might be from my daughter and it will be very incoherent.”

It didn’t take long for the “hate” to seep out between Backes and the Blues.

Already, Backes and Jordan Binnington will need to have a heart-to-heart and Joel Edmundson may have to apologize.

Edmundson was penalized for that high stick and was none too pleased about it, shoving Backes when he was down on the ice, feeling as if Backes exaggerated it. It sure looked like Edmundson caught Backes up high with a cross-check(ish) to the face.

In another altercation, Binnginton took his opportunity to drive his elbow into the head of Backes. That one might require a little more time to heal given Backes’ history with concussions.

The series, meanwhile, is 1-0 in favor of Backes and the Bruins after a 4-2 win in Game 1 on Monday.

Blues-Bruins Game 2 is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET from TD Garden on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.