When David Backes was in college, he wanted an animal or two to have around the house and keep him company. But as a seemingly young and maturing student, taking on such an important responsibility was not quite feasible.

Backes, instead, decided the next best thing would be to volunteer at the local animal shelter. So during his three years at Minnesota State University-Mankato, he spent time scooping out litter boxes and cleaning kennels.

It was the beginning of what has become a vital part of his off-ice life.

Backes is a passionate animal advocate, who after beginning his NHL career wanted to use his voice and influence towards a great cause by founding Athletes for Animals, which rescues and protects the welfare of homeless pets.