Founder & Hockey Legend
Photo / Media Gallery: Remembering Ralph Backstrom
The man that brought hockey to Northern Colorado, Ralph Backstrom, retired as the Colorado Eagles' original president and general manager on July 31, 2007. Backstrom founded the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League in 2002, and in 2003 the team began to play at the brand new Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colorado.
In four seasons under Backstrom's guidance, the Eagles won the Northwest Division four times, two Governors' Cups as regular-season champions and two President's Cups as CHL championships.
Backstrom entered the world of professional hockey as a champion with the Stanley Cup-winning Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League in 1959, and he left the game as a champion with the Eagles winning their second President's Cup in 2007.
Backstrom's name will always be synonymous with the Colorado Eagles, and he was a vibrant part of the community that he and his wife, Janet, both loved.
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 Canada.
The following season, he signed with the Montreal Canadiens, won the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year, and helped his team win the first of his six Stanley Cups. There are only nine players in Stanley Cup competition - dating back to 1893 - that have their name inscribed on the cup more than six times.
Following his 19-year playing career, Backstrom went on to coach the University of Denver Pioneers for nine seasons, winning the Coach of the Year award in 1986. He then coached the Phoenix Roadrunners of the International Hockey League before starting up Roller Hockey International, where he served as the senior vice president and commissioner from 1992-99.
In his final stop before founding the Eagles, Backstrom served as a scout for the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League until 2002. His vision and guidance brought Northern Colorado a hockey team that has had the best record in the CHL since joining the league, and his leadership has established the Colorado Eagles as one of the premier minor-league hockey teams in North America.
Ralph passed away on February 7th, 2021 at his home in Windsor. He is survived by his wife Janet, daughter Diana and sons Andrew and Martin.
- 2002-2006 President/General Manager, Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League
- 1999-2002 Special Assignment Scout, St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League
- 1992-1999 Senior V.P. and Commissioner of Roller Hockey International, Inc.
- 1990-1992 Head Coach, Phoenix Roadrunners of the International Hockey League
- 1981-1990 Head Coach, Denver University of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association
- 1980-1981 Assistant Coach, Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League
- 1977-1980 Assistant Coach, Denver University of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association
- 1958-1977 Player in the National Hockey League (15 years) and the World Hockey Association (4 years)
MAJOR HONORS RECEIVED
- Memorial Cup Championship with Ottawa-Hull Junior Canadiens, 1958
- Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in the National Hockey League, 1959
- Six Stanley Cup Championships with the Montreal Canadiens: 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969
- Four World Hockey Association All-Star Game Appearances
- Most Valuable Player for Team Canada in the Canada Cup Series vs. the Soviet Union, 1974
- NCAA Division 1, National Coach of the Year, 1986 (Spencer Penrose Award)
- President/GM, President's Cup Champion Colorado Eagles in the Central Hockey League, 2005 & 2007
- Elected to the Colorado Sports Hall Of Fame in October 2008