(Team Release) The Colorado Eagles announced today that President and General Manager Ralph Backstrom has retired after 53 years in the sport of hockey. Backstrom, 69, played on six Stanley Cup winning teams with the Montreal Canadiens, coached for 15 years at the NCAA and professional level, and recorded two Presidents Cups as President and General Manager of the Central Hockey Leagues Colorado Eagles. During his 38-year playing and coaching career, he registered 32 winning seasons, which included 35 years of playoff appearances.
**CHL Note** Backstrom also played an instrumental role in the formation and development of the Western Professional Hockey League in the early 90s, along with original WPHL President (and current CEO of Global Entertainment, parent company of the CHL) Rick Kozuback and former CHL President Brad Treliving, recently named Assistant General Manager of the National Hockey Leagues Phoenix Coyotes.
A native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Backstrom was the captain of the 1958 Memorial Cup Champion Ottawa-Hull Junior Canadiens and was voted by the media as the best junior player in the country. The following year, he signed with the Montreal Canadiens, won the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year and helped capture his first Stanley Cup Championship. His name was inscribed on the Stanley Cup five more times before being traded to Los Angeles in 1971. There are only nine players in Stanley Cup history dating back to 1893 who have won more than six Stanley Cups.
Following his 15 years in the NHL and four years in the WHA, Backstrom went on to coach the University of Denver for nine seasons. During that time, he led the Pioneers to the WCHA Title and NCAA Hockey Final Four in 1986, and was named the NCAA Division 1 National Coach of the Year winning the Spencer Penrose Award. Following his time in the WCHA, Backstrom was the head coach for the Phoenix Roadrunners of the International Hockey League for two seasons and in 1992, he co-founded Roller Hockey International (RHI). For the next eight years, Backstrom was the Senior Vice President and Commissioner of RHI before he moved on as a Special Assignment Scout for the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League from 1999-2002.
In 2002, Backstrom headed to Colorado where he founded the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League. In 2003, the Eagles began their first season and in four seasons as President and General Manager, the Eagles have won four division titles, two regular season titles and two Presidents Cups as CHL Champions. Ralph Backstrom entered hockey as a champion with the Montreal Canadiens and will leave the sport as a champion with the Colorado Eagles.
Ralph has been an icon and ambassador for this great sport for many years, said Eagles Head Coach Chris Stewart. He was an outstanding player and manager, but more importantly, he is an outstanding person. His vision brought the Eagles to Northern Colorado and we will continue to build on the foundation that he laid.
Ralph Backstrom will always remain the founder of the Colorado Eagles. He will continue to be a vibrant part of the community whether it be at Eagles games or other community events. Backstrom will remain on the Advisory Board for the Eagles and he will still be a shareholder of the team. His experience and guidance will only be a step away as Ralph and his wife Janet will continue to live in Water Valley near the Eagles corporate office.
I have been involved in this sport for a long time and I have many fond memories, exclaimed Backstrom. I want to thank all of the people that have helped me during my career. The community of Northern Colorado has been outstanding in their support of the Eagles and I leave knowing that the team and organization are in good hands.
Chris Stewart will remain as the head coach of the team and will assume the role of President and General Manager of the club. His responsibilities are the same as they have been over the past three seasons in which he oversees the day-to-day aspects within the office and on the hockey operations side. Martin Lind will become the CEO and continue as the Advisory Board Chairman of the Eagles.
We are elated that after 50-plus years of dedication to the sport of hockey, Ralph gets to enjoy a peaceful retirement, said Eagles CEO and Advisory Board Chairman Martin Lind. He will continue to be a significant member in the security of this championship organization.
The Colorado Eagles front office will remain the same pertaining to those individuals that have been with the Eagles over the past four seasons. The office staff will be asked to take on a larger responsibility and commitment towards the success of the franchise. The Eagles organization will continue to regard the fans as their first priority and insure that the quality of hockey, corporate support and fan accommodations will continue to improve