Former St. Louis Blues captain David Backes showing you can teach an old dog new tricks

David Backes is now a Boston Bruin. Weird, right? John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

EDINA, Minn. -- David Backes strolls to the dressing rooms at Braemar Arena in this town outside Minneapolis-St. Paul carrying a travel-worn St. Louis Blues bag bearing his familiar No. 42.

Which is interesting, given that Backes, the former Blues captain selected by the team 13 years ago in the 2003 draft, is now a member of the Boston Bruins.

No new Bruins bag yet?

"No, I haven't had a bag or pants," Backes said with a grin. "I've requested them but you've got to go with what you've got, I suppose."

The fact that Backes was still hanging onto a Blues bag might have been a matter of practicality and comfort for him, but it was also a nice metaphor for where Backes is at this point in his career -- caught somewhere between a significant past and a shiny new future.

As Blues captain, a designation he wore on his jersey since 2011, some of Backes' offseason duties would have normally included welcoming new teammates and preparing for another assault on a long anticipated Stanley Cup in St. Louis.

This summer has proven to be something much different on both a physical and emotional level for Backes after he signed a five-year, $30 million deal to jump conferences and join the Bruins.

"We really invested in St. Louis and it was home for charitable stuff, connecting with the community, friendships that you make over 10 years," Backes explained before taking the ice as part of the Da Beauty League, an informal circuit that includes a number of current NHLers.

"You don't just replace those overnight. So I think that's been the most difficult thing to kind of come to terms with. There's a lot of great relationships that we've built over time that aren't necessarily going to be moving with us to Boston. But at the same time it's a new endeavor, a new chapter. We'll have to re-establish ourselves in Boston but it's a different animal and we're excited to conquer that next task."

Of course the adjustment to a new team, new city and new systems will come with an added wrinkle this fall, given that Backes will spend most of September -- he hopes -- toiling for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey. The tournament, all of which takes place at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, starts Sept. 17.

Backes joked that he might be meeting potential Bruins linemate and Team Canada center Patrice Bergeron at the faceoff circle, as opposed to in the Bruins' locker room or at a Bruins team function.

"It'll be like, 'Hi, Patrice, and I'm going to beat you on this faceoff' type of deal," the 32-year-old Minneapolis native said with a laugh.

"So, those sorts of challenges will be at the forefront for myself. Not necessarily organizing everything, but assimilating into what's already there, and I think there's a bit of a difference there. I don't know which one's easier, but I think it'll be one task at a time -- and that's coming together as Team USA and winning a World Cup of Hockey. And, then, with I guess [playing] against teammates that I've never met or never hung with or haven't greeted yet."

Two distinct narratives spring from Backes' deal with the Bruins.

First, his role as the Bruins try to recover from two straight playoff misses.

Is he playing on the wing, maybe with Bergeron, or as a third-line center and power-play contributor playing behind Bergeron and David Krejci? Will his veteran presence help refocus a Bruins team that has seen a change in management and a rather stunning slide from contender status since appearing in the Stanley Cup finals in 2013?

Secondly, what kind of void is created by Backes' absence in St. Louis, especially considering that in just over a year the Blues have lost key players T.J. Oshie, Troy Brouwer -- who came to St. Louis in the Oshie deal last summer -- Brian Elliott, Steve Ott and now their captain?

Former longtime NHL player and national analyst Darren Pang, who worked Blues games last season, lives in the same neighborhood the Backes family used to call home in St. Louis. He said it's amazing how many local business owners, restaurateurs and the like have already expressed sadness at seeing Backes leave town.

"He's just one of those guys," Pang said. "There's so much more to David Backes than adopting puppies and his love for animals. He will be greatly missed in this community.

"The Boston community? They'll love him."

Backes' departure comes at a time when he seemed to have redefined himself within the Blues organization as a key part of their arsenal, having moved from center to right wing for much of last season.

"It's incredibly significant for the Blues," Pang said of Backes' departure.

"I think he just found his niche playing on the right side," added Pang, who will serve as an analyst for ESPN at the World Cup. "I just felt like he was never stressed out last year playing the wing."

And to be sure, it's not like the Blues cast Backes out.

They say they preferred to keep him, especially after he topped the 20-goal plateau for the third straight season and then added 14 points in the playoffs as the Blues advanced to the Western Conference finals, where they fell to the San Jose Sharks in six games. But the dollar and terms that other teams, including Boston, were willing to offer -- and the fact the Blues will have a new, younger look -- meant Backes moved on.

As for Backes, he's ready to embrace a fall that will take him into uncharted territory.

"In the end it's hockey, and I'll do what I can to be the best player I can in whatever situation we're in," he said, "whether that's Team USA or as a Boston Bruin."