On Tuesday, the announcement came that Nicklas Bäckström will be with the Washington Capitals for another five years. The following is from an interview Backstrom held with Swedish hockey media outlet Hockeysverige, conducted the following day. “Bäckis” talks about about the new contract, the reason why he chose to negotiate the contract himself and what his plans for the future look like.
Nicklas Bäckström began his hockey career in Valbo AIF. Dad Anders Bäckström, who comes from Ånge, just like Elias Pettersson, was a major player in the elite series for Brynäs for many years. Nicklas, of course, also made his way to Brynäs before moving to Washington in 2007 as a 20-year-old.
Since then, he has been with the Capitals, except when he played 19 games for Dynamo Moscow together with his friend Alexsander Ovechkin during the 2012/13 lockout.
So it’s clear that the 32-year-old will be with the Capitals for another five seasons. Most of it speaks well for him to end his hockey career in the US capital.
“The club has meant a lot to me. It feels like they are my family and the club has taken care of me as a family member since the first day I came here,” Bäckström tells hockeysverige.se.
“All the owners, GM’s and teammates over the years have been decent to me since I came here. I couldn’t bring myself to leave this nice town and our fans.
“I WAS A VERY SMALL BOY”
Today, Nicklas Bäckström has both a strong self-confidence and has grown socially as a person. It was much different his first day in Washington.
“I was an insecure little boy at the time, as I didn’t know much about what to expect. Admittedly, I had played in Elitserien, but there was a lot of difference with everything around, so I was petty. The first day we had regular training. I might have said one word in the dressing room,” says the Washington Center with a laugh.
“It’s been awesome to live here. We have a lot of friends around here, not just on the team. You know a lot of people and the kids go to school here so we get involved in such stuff too. It played a big part when I made this decision, so it is very much appreciated that they wanted to extend with me and that I will stay.”
Has the goal been to stay in Washington all the time?
“Yes, the goal on my part has always been to stay. Of course I want to end my career here. We had a meeting. When the club then said that they also wanted me to stay, after that there was no talk. Then it was just to sort out the details.”
NEGOTIATED: “SELF-DEFINED DECISION”
Nicklas Bäckström did not involve any agent in the negotiations but took the dialogue with the club on his own.
“Yes exactly. I sat down with the “GM” and negotiated myself. I was interested in doing so while feeling comfortable and feeling great with the club. Besides, I’ve been there for a long time so it felt like a pretty obvious decision.”
But he does not see himself working as a hockey agent in the future despite the negotiations going, mildly, well.
“No, no, I really wouldn’t,” he says with a slight laugh.”
Why did you choose to sign a five-year contract, which is quite a long time?
“Five years suited me and the club well. Then I will be 37, 38 years old. Then we get to see what happens, but I feel I have much left to give.”
“HALF OF MY LIFE I HAVE LIVED HERE”
“Of course I am aware that there is money involved, but once I sat there and tried to negotiate, I mostly thought about what players of my caliber got before. I was just trying to get a fair deal.”
What is the goal for your next five seasons in Washington?
“The goal is obviously trying to win again. We have a good team on paper at the same time as it feels like we have a good organization. There are many young new players coming up all the time who want to develop.”
“Since then, few have been spoiled to have many leading players for many years, which we have had. The young players may not have been on top until a few years ago, but it looks good.”
Can you see yourself settling in Washington after your career or leaning toward moving to Gävle?
“I haven’t really thought about that. It all depends on what the family situation looks like, how we think as a family.”
“When the contract expires I will have lived here for 18 years and in Sweden 19 years. You could say that I have split over time. I’ve lived here half my life, but we’ll see. I love the town, everything around, all the fans and the organization.”
“It’s really a great organization, but we’ll see…,” concludes Nicklas Bäckström.
By Ronnie Ronnkvist