The following is an interview with Nicklas Backstrom conducted by Johan Ericsson for the Swedish media outlet Expressen.se, and published on February 16, 2020. In the interview, Backstrom discuses a new child due in April (just before playoffs starts), being his own agent, how he handles his money and favorite “down time” activities.
He is living the life now, Nicklas Bäckström. Not only did “Bäckis” sign a new contract worth a bit over 400 million Swedish crowns ($46 million), soon the Bäckström family will also grow from four to five.
We’ve got another arrival in April. We’ll make sure to get it sorted out before the playoffs, haha, Bäckström says.
A couple of weeks after the negotiations were done, Bäckström now sits in a conferenceroom at the Washington Capitals training facility in shorts, sweatshirt, a hat – and skates.
The new “pipes” (slang for skates) are heated up and “Bäckis” is wearing them after practice so they can be shaped to his feet. He isn’t fully confident with them yet, they don’t fit perfectly.
Other then that, the Caps star center spreads just harmony. Bäckström and the Capitals started talking about the new contract as soon as it was possible, according to the rules, in July, but it was not until November that the discussion actually started. Bäckström had decided far before that to handle the talks on his own, without an agent.
I wanted to learn that side of the business, and not just only talk on the phone and hear what happens, I wanted to see our GM right in the eyes and hear his thoughts, directly to my face.
In the end, GM Brian Maclellan and Bäckström landed on a five year, 46 milliion dollar contract – worth around 440 million Swedish crowns.
How close were you each other in the talks from the beginning?
Off course there was some distance, but it went on quite smooth. We didn’t go back and forth that much, there was only a couple of runs.
As a part of the contract, Bäckström got a three year no movement clause – a clause making it impossible for the team to trade him away.
That was off course of highest importance. Especially with the upcoming expansion draft. You never know what’s gonna happen. But it feels good to get this three years, and then the 15 team list the last two years.
The 15 teams are teams that he can list as no go-teams in an eventual trade, if the Caps want to trade him. Even if it was fruitful to learn about negotiation, and it was nice to not pay a agant up to 20 million crowns for the work, there was no doubt that it was also a relief when it all was said and done.
It was damn nice. No matter how you look at it, weather I had an agent or not, contract years are different, you feel that. When I was younger I didn’t think that much about it, then I didn’t know the full situation. I just wanted to play.
When you get older one gets more knowing about what happens around the team, and what could happen, and off course you bear that around in the back of your head despite whether you want it or not, you can’t avoid it. So it was nice to get to a quite fast decision.
It happened during the season, was there any celebrations when it was done?
Yes, well celebration or celebrations… We had a press conference and then I met up the wife and the children and we had dinner a restaurant. It was half past five, so we were quit alone there, it was nice. Then we sat there and had a nice dinner, and then we went home.
The family must be happy that you get to stay here?
Absolutely. The whole family enjoys being here a lot. The kids are raised here and go to school here, and it’s a good feeling being able to plan more long-term.
Yes, they will soon have more to plan on. Nicklas, his wife Liza, Haley and Vince will soon get more company in the family.
We will get another in April. Just before the playoffs. We’ll have it sorted out before the playoffs. That’s our goal. Haha! Or well, the wife has it as a goal.
Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?
No. We’ll see, we want it to be a surprise this time, it will be fun.
Haley and Vince were at the game this Sunday. Do they know fully what dad does for a living?
My daughter loves being around the games, even though she might not be super interested about the game. I mean, she likes to skate, but the hockey part…. She rather stayat home painting or playing around with Barbies.
The little man has started to realize that I play hockey. He was sad this Sunday when we got home and asked why I didn’t score. Then I tried to explain that “daddy doesn’t score every game, but that I would try to score the next time he comes”, then he’s happy. It’s things like that I need to explain, that I just can’t score like that. But it’s fun.
You are 38 when the contract expires, what do you think about the future? I can imagine that there are some people around in Gästrikland (county where Gävle is) hoping for a season or two in Brynäs in the end…
Well yes, one also hopes for that off course. But at the same time one must consider that when one is 38, one might have lost some speed etc. But off course one has a dream about it also, to win a SM-guld (SHL gold) would be something high on my list. But we’ll have to play these last years first, and the goal is of course to win again here in Washington. We’ll see what happens.
How is the feeling for this spring?
It’s quite good I think. When we are good, we are really good. One problem we have had is that we don’t really play for 60 minutes all the time, some periods are better than others. We need to fix that before the playoffs, we need to be more consistent in my opinion. But everything can happen in the playoffs, one knows how different the game of hockey is at that time, how much more tight it is and how much more physical.
The new contract generates 46 million dollars, and the expiring one generetated 6.7. And then there were some millions on the entry-level deal. Totally “Bäckis” has gained well over a hundred million dollars during his career – over a billion Swedish crowns.
Yes, but not after taxes, Bäckström says.
Well, no, but I guess you still have some left, right.
Hehe, well I do. If you put it that way that is a insane amount of cash. One would never think that when one was 15 or 16 years old, that one would sign those contracts. I’m grateful, and there is hard work over many years which has paid off. That’s how the market works.
How do you reason about the money, are you involved in any investments, or are you just collecting it in a pile until you retire?
No, off course I want to invest and I have considered it for many years, to make good investments. Because that one day when you retire one ofcourse wants to make a living somehow. And if you have a good foundation, and make the right decisions, I believe one can be quite calm.
Do you have any things you wanna invest in?
I like property, that’s something I might want to work with in the future.
Is there something else you like to spoil yourself with? I’ve seen that you have a Mercedes AMG– SUV, for example.
I’m actually going to sell that car. I have had it a few years and been rather happy with it. It was good until the snow came, then it was hard to drive. The tires weren’t the best.
Other than that, me and my wife like to go the mall and get a foot massage, usually things like that. Nothing extravagant. We like to go and get breakfast there and take a foot massage, that’s our go-to thing.
So no extreme gold watches or things like that?
No. When I was younger I bought a lot of watches, but now when I’m older I don’t even use a watch. If you play with the kids they might tear it or things like that, so no, the watches can stay at home. Until I get older, maybe.
Translated By Jesper Svensson