September 18, 1937|
Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada
|Height||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Weight||165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)|
Los Angeles Kings
Chicago Black Hawks
New England Whalers
Backstrom played junior hockey with the Montreal Junior Canadiens from 1954 to 1956, and the Ottawa Junior Canadiens from 1956 to 1958. He was captain of the team that won the George Richardson Memorial Trophy in 1957 and the Memorial Cup in 1958.
As a professional, Backstrom joined the Montreal Canadiens for the 1958-59 season and was selected the NHL's top rookie, receiving the Calder Memorial Trophy. He played in Montreal for 12 full seasons, winning six Stanley Cups and appearing in six National Hockey League All-Star Games (1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1967). After the 1969–70 season, Backstrom requested a trade and talked about retiring. He reported to training camp, but left the team just before the season opened. After returning to the Canadiens, Backstrom spent most of his time on the bench until being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in January 1971. Just over two years later, he was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks for Dan Maloney and finished the 1972–73 season there.
Backstrom then jumped to the World Hockey Association and joined the Chicago Cougars, where he played for two years, and later became a part-owner of the team. In his first season, he led the Cougars in scoring with 33 goals and 83 points in 70 games. He also represented Canada at the 1974 Summit Series on an all-star team of Canadian WHA players. His offensive production dropped sharply in 1974-75 and at the end of the season the new Denver Spurs selected Backstrom in the WHA's expansion draft. Backstrom was the team's top scorer, but the franchise struggled, and a move to Ottawa—where the team was renamed the Ottawa Civics—did not help. The franchise ceased operations 41 games into the season. Backstrom finished the season with the New England Whalers, scoring 35 goals and 83 points over the year. He played one more year with New England and retired in 1977. He would have turned 40 before the start of the next season. Through his professional career, Backstrom had seven 20-goal seasons in the NHL and two 30-goal seasons in the WHA.
Immediately after his retirement Backstrom accepted an offer to join the staff of newly appointed Denver head coach, Marshall Johnston, as an assistant. Three years later Backstrom returned to the NHL as an assistant for the Los Angeles Kings but only stayed for one season before rejoining Denver, this time as the bench boss after Johnston left to pursue opportunities in the NHL. Backstrom led the Pioneers through a few lean years in the early 1980s before having a breakout season in 1985–86 when he led Denver to still-team record 34-win season including a conference regular season title, a conference tournament title (their first in 13 years) and reached the team's first Frozen Four since finishing second in 1973. Backstrom earned both the conference and national coach of the year awards for the impressive season, but he was unable to sustain the high level of play for the remainder of his tenure. Backstrom resigned after the 1989–90 season, turning the team over to Frank Serratore.
Backstrom jumped into the professional ranks in 1990–91 when he took over the Phoenix Roadrunners. After a good first season including pushing the #1 seeded Peoria Rivermen to a seventh game in the Turner Cup semifinals, Phoenix dropped to dead last in the 10-team league and Backstrom was dropped as the coach.
Backstrom, along with Dennis Murphy and Larry King, founded Roller Hockey International and served as commissioner for a time but it soon became apparent that the league was in financial trouble and it suspended the entire 1998 season before playing one final campaign in 1999. While the league didn't officially disband until 2001, Backstrom meanwhile returned to the NHL in 1999–00 as a scout for the St. Louis Blues. After three seasons with the blue notes Backstrom founded a new CHL team called the Colorado Eagles. In addition to owning the team, Backstrom served as General Manager and President of the team for the first three seasons, including a league title in 2004–05. With Backstrom as owner, the Eagles finished atop their division six times, made the finals five times, and win the Ray Miron President's Cup twice in eight seasons before making a move to the ECHL in 2011–12.
Awards and achievements
- George Richardson Memorial Trophy champion — 1957
- Memorial Cup champion — 1958
- Calder Memorial Trophy — 1959
- NHL All-Star Games — 1958, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965, 1967
- Stanley Cup champion — 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969 (with Montreal)
- Paul Deneau Trophy — 1974
Backstrom's parents, John Albin Backstrom (died 1983) and Ester Bertils (died 1996), both immigrated (separately) to Canada from Ostrabothnia, the Swedish-speaking region of Finland, in the 1920s. His father worked as a gold miner in Kirkland Lake. A local hockey prodigy from a town that produced many NHL players, Backstrom was scouted by the Montreal Canadiens at age 16 and began his professional career soon thereafter. Backstrom has been married twice. His first wife was Frances Richard of Aylmer, Quebec (married 1961); his second is Janet Price of Nashville, Tennessee (married 1985). They currently reside in Windsor, Colorado. He has three children from his first marriage. The eldest, Martin Backstrom (born 1962) is a scholar of classical Chinese literature who retired in 2018 as Associate Director of the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and who now resides in Palm Springs, California. His daughter Diana Backstrom of Denver, Colorado holds an advanced degree from the University of Denver. His youngest son, Andrew Backstrom, lives in Seal Beach, California. He is the cousin of NHL hockey player Daren Puppa. He is not related to NHL goalie Niklas Bäckström, nor NHL centre Nicklas Bäckström.
Regular season and playoffs
|1954–55||Montreal Jr. Canadiens||QJHL||21||7||6||13||2||5||2||1||3||4|
|1955–56||Montreal Jr. Canadiens||QJHL||18||10||8||18||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|1955–56||Montreal Jr. Canadiens||M-Cup||—||—||—||—||—||10||5||4||9||6|
|1956–57||Ottawa Jr. Canadiens||OHA-Jr.||18||10||8||18||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|1956–57||Ottawa Jr. Canadiens||EOHL||18||7||10||17||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|1956–57||Ottawa Jr. Canadiens||M-Cup||—||—||—||—||—||15||17||11||28||19|
|1957–58||Ottawa Jr. Canadiens||OHA-Jr.||26||24||27||51||64||—||—||—||—||—|
|1957–58||Ottawa Jr. Canadiens||EOHL||33||21||25||46||13||—||—||—||—||—|
|1957–58||Ottawa Jr. Canadiens||M-Cup||—||—||—||—||—||13||17||9||26||24|
|1970–71||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||33||14||13||27||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|1971–72||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||76||23||29||52||22||—||—||—||—||—|
|1972–73||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||63||20||29||49||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|1972–73||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||16||6||3||9||2||16||5||6||11||0|
|1975–76||Denver Spurs/Ottawa Civics||WHA||41||21||29||50||14||—||—||—||—||—|
|1975–76||New England Whalers||WHA||38||14||19||33||6||17||5||4||9||8|
|1976–77||New England Whalers||WHA||77||17||31||48||30||3||0||0||0||0|
Head coaching record
|Denver Pioneers (WCHA) (1981–1990)|
|1985-86||Denver||34-13-1||25-9-0||1st||NCAA Consolation Game (Loss)|
Postseason invitational champion
- "The Memorial Cup: A History...1958". Taking Note with Gregg Drinnan. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "1958-59 Calder Memorial Trophy Winner". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Ralph Backstrom NHL & WHA Statistics". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Ralph Backstrom (1956-1971)". Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. p. 163. ISBN 1-894974-21-2.
- "Ottawa Civics". WHA Hockey. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Ralph Backstrom". Elite Prospects. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
- "Denver Men's Hockey Team History". USCHO.com. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
- Blair, Darrel (March 2, 2003). "News - The Coloradoan - www.coloradoan.com". The Coloradoan. Retrieved 2007-08-04.
- "2013-14 Denver Hockey Media Guide" (PDF). Denver Pioneers. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
|Awards and achievements|
| Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy
| WCHA Coach of the Year
| Spencer Penrose Award