David Backes may play with an extreme edge on the ice, but off it he sure seems to have a real soft side. Well known for his animal rights activism, Backes did an incredible deed for humans this time around. The St. Louis Blues captain donated more than $24,000 worth of youth hockey equipment to the Mankato Area Youth Hockey Association in Minnesota.
Backes, a native of Minneapolis, played college hockey at Minnesota State University in Mankato.
According to MAHA, Backes' donation included 150 sticks, 70 sets of skates, 60 helmets, 60 sets of gloves, 6 full sets of goalie gear, 1,000 pucks and more. That's going to make a huge difference.
MAHA held a Try Hockey Free Event Saturday, where the equipment was distributed to participants. Any players that decided to sign up with MAHA would get free use of the equipment for a year. So this is an incredibly generous donation that should have a very positive impact on local youth hockey in a lot of ways.
One of the primary barriers to kids taking up hockey is the cost of equipment and ice time. USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, the governing bodies of the sport in North America's primary hockey nations, have programs that provide equipment, but there obviously isn't always enough to go around.
USA Hockey held a national Try Hockey Free day Saturday, as a way to introduce the game to U.S. children between the ages of 4 and 9 without any cost attached. Most associations provide equipment, but it's often just for that one day.
When a guy like Backes steps up to help kids discover the game by breaking down the cost barrier, that's huge. It's always nice to see players remember where they came from and even make an investment in the game in such a meaningful way. Think those kids were happy?
Backes is also in the middle of a terrific year in St. Louis. The likely 2014 U.S. Olympian has 15 points in 13 games for the Blues.