DENVER - The Denver Pioneers hockey family mourns the loss of former head coach Ralph Backstrom, who passed away at 83 earlier this week. Backstrom coached the Pioneers to six winning seasons during his nine-year tenure from 1981-1990. The Kirkland Lake, Ontario native reached the high point of his Denver career in 1985-86 when he took DU to a 34-13-1 season, won the WCHA regular season and playoff titles and earned a trip to the Frozen Four. Backstrom's 34 wins set the mark for Pioneer teams and earned him accolades as the WCHA and National Coach of the Year. As a player, Backstrom was a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, six-time NHL All-Star and recipient of the Calder Memorial Trophy. His 20-year career included more than 1,000 NHL games, played primarily with the Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings, and 234 WHA games. Immediately after retirement, Backstrom began his coaching career at DU as a three-year assistant under Marshall Johnson, then spent a season in the same role with the Kings before returning to DU as a head coach. Backstrom eventually left Denver to serve as the head coach of the IHL's Phoenix Road Runners. He later became the founder and president of Roller Hockey International and founder, general manager and president of the Colorado Eagles.