By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Sporting a red non-contact sweater, David Backes took his first strides towards a return to the lineup on Saturday morning.
“Yeah, it’s good," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of No. 42's on-ice work during an optional morning skate. "He’s taken some time away from the rink and he’s kind of checking the boxes to get back in the lineup now and one of them is to get back on the ice.
"That’s step one."
Out of action since his Nov. 2 collision with the Senators' Scott Sabourin, the Bruins have classified Backes' injury as the always-vague "upper-body injury." But speaking after that game, Cassidy clearly alluded to a concussion, saying that we could "do the math" with such a designation.
And if it is indeed a concussion as suspected, this is the fourth diagnosed concussion of Backes' run with the Bruins, and his second in just over 12 months. The first came in Dec. 2016 on a hit from then-Sabres forward William Carrier, the second was sustained during the B's second-round series with the Lightning in May 2018, the third came on a hit to the head from Oilers defenseman Matt Benning in Oct. 2018, and then came the aforementioned Sabourin collision earlier this month.
It's quite a list, and it's all enough for the Bruins to be extra careful with the 35-year-old winger's comeback attempts.
“This is an individual decision first, right? Then you talk with the team, obviously, to make sure everything is done properly," said Cassidy. "Because once you’ve had a few head injuries, you’ve got to be really careful. Our situation, we don’t need to rush anybody back right now no matter who it is, [but] especially in this situation.
"We are being as careful as we need to be along with the individual’s consent."
With all of that in mind, the Bruins are not putting any sort of timeline on Backes, with Cassidy saying that he will not know the team's next step until he sees Backes put on a practice jersey and rejoin the team.
Backes, who is in the fourth year of a five-year, $30 million deal signed in 2016, has one assist in eight games this year.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.