Seabrook's hit on Backes could impact Blues' playoff series

News-DemocratApril 19, 2014 

— St. Louis Blues captain David Backes isn't an easy player to take down.

When Backes absorbed a crushing hit from Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook late in the third period Saturday in Game 2, it left an immediate trail of anger, explanations and potential injury -- as well as a possible suspension.

The emotional hangover from the controversial play figures to play out over the rest of this series. Part of that emotion from Backes' teammates helped lead to a 4-3 comeback win in overtime Saturday, giving the Blues a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.

"I have no thoughts on the hit," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after being asked about Backes' condition. "That's up to the league. How do you think he is? Not great. We'll let the league deal with it."

Backes was coming out of the corner after overskating the puck when he was dropped on a hit by Seabrook with 4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the third period. Both players are listed as standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 221 pounds.

Replays showed Seabrook's right shoulder and possibly his elbow driving Backes' head into the glass, with Seabrook also leaving his skates during the hit.

Backes had blood on the bridge of his nose following the collision. He tried to skate off on his own before getting some help from Blues trainer Ray Barile.

"Hopefully he's not missing any time, but he's our leader," Blues winger Chris Porter said of Backes. "We follow him every night, but we'll do whatever it takes to get him back. If it's winning a couple more games to get him back, then so be it.

"I'm not really going to comment on the hit. It is what it is and it's terrible we lost Backes, but it was extra motivation for us down the stretch there."

Blues forward Alexander Steen immediately went after Seabrook. Backes tried, but appeared dazed and fell back to the ice before being restrained by Barile.

While neither referee immediately signaled a penalty, Seabrook eventually received a five-minute major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

It's almost a certainty the NHL's Department of Player Safety will at least consider a suspension for Seabrook, who scored a goal earlier in the game.

"I was just trying to make a play on Backes," Seabrook said. "I thought the puck was there; I was on Steen, I was just coming down the wall and I just tried to finish my hit."

Does Seabrook think he'll be suspended?

"We'll see what happens. I don't know," he said. "I feel bad seeing a guy like that on the ice. I've been there myself. I'm not trying to target his head, I'm not trying to do anything like that.

"It doesn't feel good to see a player like that lying there like that and whatnot, and knowing that I hit him."

Seabrook insisted he wasn't targeting Backes.

"It wasn't my intent," said Seabrook, who expressed concern and hoped Backes was OK. "I thought it was a hit, it's a physical series. Hits have been laid like that from both sides the whole series. We'll see what happens."

Blues goalie Ryan Miller was asked for his opinion on the hit.

"I didn't like it. I don't think a lot of people who are hockey fans and have seen the way they've been calling things should like it," Miller said. "I imagine the NHL will have something to say about it, but it's not up for the players to decide. We'll see what they do with it, but it's certainly was not what we want to see."

Seabrook seemed surprised by the aftermath.

"I don't know what happened. I looked around, the refs didn't have their arm up for a penalty," he said. "That's when I saw David sitting there and it's tough to see that. But, you know, I don't know really what else to tell you.

"I hope Backes is feeling all right and I hope he's doing OK. I guess that's all I can say."

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford seemed surprised there weren't more penalties after the scrum that ensued.

"Their guy comes flying in and throws his gloves off and starts throwing punches like crazy," Crawford said. "I don't know why nothing was called there. Call (Seabrook) five minutes is fine. You got your point across.

"Apparently guys are allowed to come in flying into a scrum throwing punches and that's fine, that's OK. Whatever. It is what it is. We should be ready for next game."

Contact reporter Norm Sanders at 239-2454, or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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