This summer has been a long and winding road for our beloved top-line Centerman. Nicklas Backstrom, an avid golfer, was kept from his favorite summertime hobby (for the most part) due to arthroscopic hip surgery and the recovery associated with this type of surgery. NoVa Caps decided to retrace Backstrom’s path since the season ended on May 13th.
To recap Nicklas Backstrom’s offseason, we start with his exit interview, held on May 15th where he was asked about the status of his health. Jill Sorensen asked if Backstrom had been “banged up” during the Rangers series, where Backstrom replied “no”. Things seemed to be business as usual for Nicklas Backtrom.
Then on May 26, 2015, NoVa Caps was the first to learn as a result of dialog exchanged with a golfing partner, that Backstrom was actually preparing for hip surgery…. Wait, What?
In an interview with Instagram user @ccassaday85, who had played golf with Backstrom at Congressional Country Club on Tuesday, May 26th, it was revealed that Backstrom was indeed planning to have hip surgery.
As it turns out, Backstrom underwent the surgical procedure the following morning. In an official statement from the Capitals the following day, the Capitals stated, “we are confident that Nick will be completely healthy prior to the start of the 2015-16 regular season.”
On June 2nd, Backstrom attended a Washington Nationals game, just 5 days post surgery. NoVa Caps Fan Julie Morris, who spoke with Backstrom and had a photo taken with him at the game. She noted that Backstrom was on crutches, but that he appeared to be in good spirits, and in fact, ditched the crutches for the photo.
Two weeks later, Backstrom was back home in Sweden, where he gave an interview to his hometown newspaper, the Gefle Dagblad (Englsh translation link). In the interview, published on June 15th, Backstrom stated he had been told that it will probably take about five months of recovery time. This would put Backstrom back in playing shape sometime in November.
(Backstrom at the Summerburst Festival in Valhallavägen, Sweden, June 12th)
On June 26th, GM Brian MacLellan stated in an interview with the Washington Post that the team was hopeful Backstrom would be ready for the start of the season. The story also noted that there was some noticeable concern in the tone of GM MacLellan’s voice as he discussed the status of his top-line center. The story also quoted a study that found an average recovery time of 3.4 months for the type of surgery Backstrom had, but some recovery times take as much as nine months. Again, taking an average, that would possibly enable Backstrom to return to the ice sometime in November.
During a luncheon held for Head Coach Barry Trotz on July 8th at the National Press Club, Trotz made it known that there was some concern as to whether or not Backstrom would be ready in time for the start of the 2015-2016 season, and that the team was preparing to have a plan in place should Backstrom not be ready for the start of the season. The following video provides Trotz response, starting at the 43:00 mark. (Transcript by Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post)
Nicklas Backstrom has spent most of the summer recuperating at his home in Norrlandet, a town 5 miles northeast of Gävle, Sweden. As reported by “Hockey Ramblings, Backstrom has been working out with fellow NHL players at a local training facility, although Backstrom has been focusing on rehab work, rather than traditional pre-season training routines. The Hockey Ramblings post also included a video of Backstrom working out on a stationary bike.
Backstrom made a rare appearance on Twitter on July 17th, to advertise for his new hockey stick, the Warrior Dynasty HD1.
On July 18th, Backstrom was interviewed by Swedish radio, however, he didn’t go into much detail on his rehab progress.
– It will probably take a while. It depends on how it goes but I hope of course to be ready to start to the season.
Backstrom also commented on possibly ending his career in his home country:
Gävle will always be my home even though I live in Washington ten months a year, said Backstrom that opens the door to finish his career at home in Sweden.
– As Gavle guy said, I’m brynäsare from scratch and it would be fun to put on Brynäs sweater back but we’ll see where the road goes, and if someone wants me when the contract is over.
In the interview, Bäckström added he much prefers the smaller rink “more challenging for players, more entertaining for fans.” Bäckström also said that the biggest change from when he came in to NHL is higher pace and the demise of the fighter. A detailed transcrption of the interview is provided by Hockey Ramblings here.