Remembering Ralph Backstrom

Remembering Ralph Backstrom

Image Gallery - Remembering Ralph Backstrom
View Image Gallery
Feb 8, 2021 View Gallery
Remembering Ralph Backstrom

Ralph Backstrom played on six Stanley Cup winning teams and was a fifteen-year coach at the NCAA and professional level. During his 38-year playing and coaching career, he registered 32 winning seasons, which included 35 years of playoff appearances.

Born on September 18, 1937 and native to 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 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 competition -- dating back to 1893 -- who have won more than six Stanley Cups.

Backstrom was traded to Chicago after two seasons in Los Angeles and led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup Finals. He then signed with the World Hockey Association, playing for Chicago, Denver, and the New England Whalers. One of his greatest moments came in 1974 when he was voted MVP for Team Canada in the Canada Cup Series vs. the Soviet National Team. Among the illustrious names on that team were Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, and Frank Mahovlich. Backstrom’s career scoring record (NHL & WHA) combined total is: Games Played-1336, Goals-378, Assists-514, PTS-892.

After playing 15 years in the NHL and four years in the WHA, Backstrom entered the coaching field in 1977 as assistant coach at the University of Denver. Following a brief tenure as L.A. Kings assistant coach, Backstrom returned to Denver as Head Coach. He assembled a winning record in nine seasons with the Pioneers and led the school to the WCHA title and NCAA Hockey Final Four in 1986. Backstrom was named NCAA Division 1 National Coach of the Year for his efforts, winning the Spencer Penrose Award.

After two years coaching the Phoenix Roadrunners of the International Hockey League, Backstrom co-founded Roller Hockey International (RHI) in 1992. He was responsible for creating the playing rules for professional roller hockey, which are now being recognized and used throughout the world.

In the summer of 2007, Backstrom retired after 53 years in the game of hockey. He passed away at the age of 83 on February 7, 2021, and leaves behind a lasting legacy of kindness, wisdom and love for the great sport of hockey.


  • 2002-2007 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, University of Denver of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association
  • 1980-1981 Assistant Coach, Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League
  • 1977-1980 Assistant Coach, University of Denver of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association
  • 1958-1977 Player in the National Hockey League (15 years) and the World Hockey Association (4 years)


  • 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
  • Presented with ECHL’s Lifetime Achievement Award in January 2013

Ralph Backstrom - FounderRalph Backstrom


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.

Ralph Backstrom Wikipedia biography