Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google

Backes Among USA Leadership Group

Wednesday, 08.28.2013 / 9:15 AM / St Louis Blues - Features
Share with your Friends

Backes Among USA Leadership Group
Team USA General Manager David Poile has named David Backes as part of Team USA\'s Olympic Group.

ARLINGTON, Va. -- It can be difficult for a hockey team playing in an international tournament to develop some sort of identity because of the lack of practice time and condensed nature of the schedule.

The United States team at the 2010 Winter Olympics did coalesce well and play a consistent brand of hockey. One of the reasons was great goaltending from Ryan Miller, but another was the common ground found in the skill sets of a lot of the team's top players.

David Poile, the general manager for the U.S. team for the 2014 Winter Olympics, named his leadership group at the 2013 U.S. National Team Camp, and those players were a critical part of that group from 2010 that found some measure of an identity.

"We have a very blue-collar mentality, and that was something that made us very successful in Vancouver," Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise said. "We'll be the first ones to tell you there's going to be teams with a lot more skill than we have and we know that. We have different strengths that we can play to, and we do take a lot of pride in being well-rounded players. I think it's what will hopefully make our team successful this time around as well."

Parise and Wild teammate Ryan Suter are part of that leadership group, along with three players who are captains of their NHL teams -- Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, David Backes of the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers' Ryan Callahan. They are all skilled players, but they're also well-rounded.


David Backes has been named to Team USA's leadership group along with Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan.
Interviews: Backes | Oshie | Shattenkirk
Photos: Olympic Orientation Camps
Feature: Camp has Bouwmeester Ready
More: Blues Have 8 Olympic Hopefuls

They are strong at both ends of the ice. They are apt at engaging in the physical side of the game. If someone from Sweden or the Czech Republic was asked to describe a prototypical player on the U.S. Olympic team, they are going to be among the first names to come up.

"They're top players," Poile said. "They’re guys you want on your team. They're hard to play against, especially guys like Backes, Brown and Callahan. That's no walk in the park. Parise and Suter are among the best at their positions in the National Hockey League. You add that they're good people, have good leadership characteristics, and we're glad we've identified them this early in the program."

Any Olympic team from one of the "big seven" hockey-playing nations is going to be full of players who are considered leaders on their club teams. Being a leader on an international team can be a little different, and might need an alternate approach at times.

"I was part of it in 2010, so I've been kind of through it once," Brown said. "It is a couple more meetings here and there, and kind of getting the message across. Probably on this team more than most, the messages can be conveyed probably better from a teammate than the coach because you can relate to the players. Everybody here could be a leader, so it is just about getting on the same page as quickly as possible and pushing that message."

In addition to having all gone through the process in Vancouver four years ago, all five are relatively young, as leaders in professional sports go, at either 28 or 29 years old.

Should the NHL, National Hockey League Players' Association and International Olympic Committee agree to have NHL players at the 2018 Winter Olympics, all five likely will be strong candidates to be on that team as well.

"In 2010 it was a brand new team and a transition from the former great USA players that were just too old or had retired," Poile said. "These five guys in particular have shown those leadership qualities with NHL teams, and they also did that for the Olympics in 2010. We're very pleased to have this leadership group, because it gives you that continuity that allows the coaches and myself to ask some questions and run things by them that they can support or tell us why that doesn't make any sense."

Parise said he is excited about the possibility of that type of continuity, but also offered caution because of the continuing evolution and development of American hockey.

"We had a young team in Vancouver with hardly any Olympic experience, and now we have a lot of returners," he said. "There are a lot of guys who if [the NHL] goes again [in 2018] that could potentially go again as well. The best part about it is the group of players that are coming up -- they have been winning [the IIHF World Junior Championship] or always finishing well at World Juniors and winning Under-18s [IIHF World Under-18 Championship]. We're going to be pushed. We have to stay sharp to make it next time too. That's the exciting part. I think there's much more of an expect-to-win mentality at these tournaments."

These five players will be in charge of some logistical connections between players and coaches in the coming months, but eventually the team will travel to Sochi for the Olympics and one of them will be named captain.

Considering the increased expectations after a surprising silver medal in Vancouver, there will be more pressure on the player dubbed "Captain America" by Poile, coach Dan Bylsma and the USA Hockey staff.

"Just being on a second Olympic team, those words coming out of my mouth give me chills," Backes said. "A first Olympic team, I was flabbergasted to be on it. Talking about being on a second Olympic team blows my mind, and then to talk about putting a letter on your jersey, it is so humbling and proud, but there is also responsibility that comes with that. It's not just, 'Hey here’s a letter for your jersey. Good luck out there.' There's added responsibility to try and lead the guys and keep them on the right path.

"It would be nice to hopefully be the first one with a gold medal around your neck, but like I've said before, whether you've got a letter on your jersey or you're up in the stands with pom-poms in your hands, it is all for the red, white and blue."




1 ANA 48 32 10 6 143 124 70
2 NSH 46 31 10 5 141 107 67
3 STL 46 29 13 4 148 111 62
4 CHI 48 30 16 2 151 112 62
5 WPG 49 26 15 8 138 122 60
6 SJS 48 25 17 6 131 132 56
7 VAN 46 26 17 3 124 118 55
8 CGY 48 26 19 3 140 126 55
9 LAK 48 21 15 12 133 129 54
10 COL 49 20 18 11 128 141 51
11 DAL 47 21 19 7 146 154 49
12 MIN 47 21 20 6 130 138 48
13 ARI 47 16 25 6 108 160 38
14 EDM 48 12 27 9 110 160 33


V. Tarasenko 46 24 23 23 47
A. Steen 44 15 25 8 40
K. Shattenkirk 46 8 31 17 39
J. Schwartz 39 16 21 15 37
D. Backes 45 16 17 5 33
J. Lehtera 45 9 21 16 30
T. Oshie 38 13 15 11 28
A. Pietrangelo 46 4 23 0 27
P. Stastny 38 9 16 5 25
P. Berglund 45 6 9 -1 15
B. Elliott 13 5 2 .930 1.86
J. Allen 13 5 2 .900 2.65

Single Game Tickets
Full Season Tickets
Stretch Run Packs
Group Tickets
Luxury Suites
My Account
NHL Ticket Exchange

In the System
Front Office
Blues History
All-Time Player Roster
Chicago Wolves
Alaska Aces

Regular Season
Practice Schedule
Promotions Schedule
Schedule Downloads

Player Stats
League Standings

Blues Overtime Blog

Game Highlights
News & Interviews
Bommarito Zero to Sixty

Find a Player
Mobile App
E-mail Subscriptions

Hot Deals for Cool Fans
Photo Galleries
License Plates

Blues in the Community
Blues 14 Fund
50/50 Raffle Numbers

Online Store
Blues Auctions
True Blues Authentics is the official Web site of the St Louis Blues. St Louis Blues, and are trademarks of the St Louis Blues Hockey Club. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 St. Louis Blues Hockey Club and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.