“Right now everything is a bit uncertain, and uncertainty always creates doubt, it’s only human. But once we start playing, I think it will feel right again,” said New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad to Sportbladet. Capitals forward and fellow Swede, Nicklas Bäckström, who has been in Washington for two weeks now, agrees.
“You have respect for the virus, but I trust that we have a good plan and that security will be as good as it can be,” Backstrom said.
However, Backstrom acknowledged that the league is entering uncharted waters.
“It will be very different, but it’s the same for everyone and we still have a very nice prize to play for. I think this is going to be a bit of fun. We also have two weeks to get in shape, so the rust I have from the first workouts will soon be shaken off.”
Like most other Swedish players, “Bäckis” has left the family at home in Sweden – and it will be a long time before he gets to meet with partner Liza and the three children again.
“We concluded that it’s best that she stay there and receive the help she needs from relatives and friends. It’s not fun, but we will tackle this together. This is a special time.”
On Friday the NHL and players’ association agreed on the protocols for phases three and four of the league’s return-to-play plan. The round-robin and qualifying round schedules were also released.
The Capitals will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in their round-robin opener on Monday, August 3. The Capitals will them face the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, August 6, and the Boston Bruins on Saturday, August 8 to round out the round-robin tournament.
By Jon Sorensen