An NHL debut is always a special day in the life of a professional hockey player. But when Trent Frederic hits the ice with the Bruins for their clash with the Jets on Tuesday night, there will be an extra layer of excitement.
That’s bound to happen when you have the opportunity to play alongside your childhood idol, David Backes.
It was 12 years ago that Frederic took a photo with Backes, who was a first-year pro with the St. Louis Blues at the time. Now, two weeks away from his 21st birthday, Frederic will have to do his best to stay level-headed as he makes his NHL debut on a line with his favourite player.
A 9-year old Trent Frederic having picture taken with David Backes. Good chance the two are on the same line tomorrow when Frederic makes his #NHL debut with the #NHLBruins. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/PBduADuo4Q
— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) January 29, 2019
“I try not to be too starstruck to him,” said Frederic to Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com. “But I’m sure he has a clue.”
Frederic’s bond with the gritty forward goes beyond one photo, though.
Growing up in St. Louis while Keith Tkachuk played for the Blues, Frederic became friends with two of Tkachuk’s sons that you might have heard of (smart move). The one’s name is Matthew. He’s currently playing for the Calgary Flames. The other’s name is Brady, and he’s in his rookie season with the Ottawa Senators.
Through this connection, Frederic met Backes, who lived with the Tkachuks during his first season in the NHL. In fact, Frederic recalls playing mini sticks with Backes as a youngster.
Since then, Backes has played nearly 1000 regular season and playoff games for the Blues and Bruins while Frederic has developed into quite the player in his own regard. He was selected by Boston in the first round of the 2016 draft before playing two successful seasons of point-per-game hockey with the University of Wisconsin.
After the 2017-18 season came to a close, Frederic made the jump to professional puck with the AHL’s Providence Bruins, Boston’s farm team, and has been a consistent contributor since.
In 37 games this season, his first full AHL campaign, he’s picked up ten goals and 17 points. On top of that, he has 47 penalty minutes to his name. That sandpaper in his game may be at least partially inspired by Backes, who’s racked up more than 1000 PIMS in his NHL career.
“It’s certainly humbling to see a kid — I think he was 9 when we took that picture — but … from then to 12 years later, playing on a line with the kid, that’s a small world,” Backes said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Based on how things go against the Jets, the relationship between the two and the interesting story they share may only get cooler.
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