By Nick Germano
Boston Bruins last game against the Ottawa Senators saw one of the most curdling hockey scenes in recent history.
Not even five minutes into the first period of Friday’s game, David Backes was skating along the close-side boards, looking to connect a cross-ice pass to Anders Bjork. Although the pass didn’t get through, Senators forward Scott Sabourin was looking to play the body on Backes to try and get him to cough up a bad pass – a simple hockey play.
What happened next brought TD Garden to the most chilling silence in a long time. Sabourin seemed to collide headfirst with David Backes while trying to make the play, rendering himself unconscious before he fell face-first onto the ice, with a pool of blood quickly forming next to his head. Backes knew once Sabourin fell that this was serious, and chose to forget about the game and signaled for medical staff to get to him right away. The stretcher was brought out not a minute later, as David Backes was also brought to tears.
It’s safe to say he wasn’t the only one without a dry eye.
As I was watching, I couldn’t help my jaw from forcing itself open, as I covered my mouth with my hands in disbelief. I was watching NESN and was able to see a replay rather fast, and I was genuinely scared for the man’s life. He didn’t move for about five minutes after his collision. In all, it took the medical team over ten minutes to get him on the stretcher and eventually into an ambulance.
What put a smile on my face was seeing Sabourin give the crowd a thumbs-up as he was stretchered off next to both teams, as all the players cleared the bench to send him off. Once he got to the hospital, he was reported to be fully conscious and able to move on his own.
Although this thankfully wasn’t an injury that ended up being life-threatening, it’s hard to say I believed that as he was sitting unconscious on the ice surface. As someone who’s watched and played hockey for so long, I’ve never in my life been that scared for a player’s life before. I do remember Nathan Horton’s hit and was in attendance for that game, but I was too young to think outside of the game. This man has a family and loved ones, and it really made me remember to look past these people as just hockey players, but as human beings, because I thought one was almost lost that day.
It also makes you remember how quickly this game can change. The Bruins were riding some early momentum after a great PP goal from Pastrnak early on, but after this incident, the intensity from both sides was completely gone. It was parallel to beer-league. I salute the players for even being able to play after seeing something like that, as I turned my stream off not too soon after, as I was honestly distraught at the scene I just witnessed.
It’s also safe to say that David Backes would never intend for something like this to happen. I haven’t heard anyone argue this case yet, but I think it still needs to be spoken on. Backes was clearly distraught – he was probably in pain too, as Backes was unaware of the hit coming to him, but either way, he didn’t stay in the game for much longer as he soon went down the tunnel with tears down his face. David Backes, as much as fans may hate his contract (including me), is the epitome of a class-act, and one of the true ambassadors of the sport.
Some good news is Scott posted on Instagram that he was doing better.
All in all, what happened Saturday was a freak accident, and it’s time to move on from it. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt, and hopefully, Scott Sabourin can see himself back on the ice soon. I wish him all the best in a painless and speedy recovery.