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David Backes says goodbye to St. Louis, for now

Former Blues captain signs five-year, $30 million contract with Boston

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / Staff Writer

His last moments in St. Louis were filled with tears, at the future, at the past, at the unknown. 

David Backes was devastated by the loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, knowing he had come so very close to reaching the Stanley Cup Final and knowing he might not be back in a Blues uniform, in Blues colors. 

That unknown became the known Friday, when the former captain made official his exit as a member of the Blues. Backes would head east from St. Louis, the only organization he had known in his NHL career, to join the Boston Bruins, a team whose history would seem to fit his style and thump, on afive-year, $30 million contract. 

But it was not an easy exit. The Blues were the team that drafted him. St. Louis had become his home. He had grown up with the team and the team had grown up with him, coming from the depths of the League to become one of the four finalists last season.

"I cannot imagine a better place to play hockey, grow as a person and build a family over the last 10 years," Backes wrote in a lengthy tweet posted at 12:55 p.m. on Friday, less than an hour after he became an unrestricted free agent. 

Tweet from @dbackes42: A great mixture of emotions and thankful for an amazing decade of my life! Farewell @StLouisBlues #BleedBlue

"My countless dreams of being the first Blue to raise [the Stanley Cup] and play my whole career with one organization have sadly come to an abrupt and unexpected end. I pass the torch on to whoever comes after me and wish this team in this town that championship they have waited 50 years to celebrate. I will forever cherish the handshakes, the cheers and my time in this city. This isn't goodbye, this is goodbye for now. Thank you St. Louis!"

Backes did not sound like a man eager to leave. He did not sound like a man closing a door. Nor did Blues general manager Doug Armstrong seem like a man that wanted to lose him, saying, in a conversation with the NHL Network, the center would be "sorely missed" in terms of both physical play and leadership. 

But, Armstrong added, he was nervous about players at 32 years old getting longer-term contracts. As he said, "You want the compensation to follow the production." Ultimately, it wasn't the dollars that made him nervous. It was the term. 

And that ended the marriage between Backes and the Blues, the team for which Backes had scored 206 goals with 254 assists over 10 seasons, good for sixth on the Blues' all-time scoring list. 

He recalled a pair of those goals on Twitter on Friday. 

"I vividly remember my first goal as a Blue against the [Los Angeles Kings] in my first home game at Scottrade Center, just as I remember my last as a Blue in Game 1 of the WCF against the San Jose Sharks," Backes wrote. "In between those goals are 10 years of amazing memories of a franchise that grew from the worst team in the NHL to one of the top-four teams in the League, and the trials and triumphs along the way. 

"I will remember my time playing in St. Louis with the amazing people, relationships I built, the faithful diehard fans who support the team and how this devoted community embraced the philanthropic work my wife and I do. All of these amazing qualities make our family proud to call St. Louis home."

It is no longer, at least not his home for hockey. That now is Boston, as he swaps the Blues for the Black and Gold.

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