Washington Capitals centerman Nicklas Backstrom has no plans to end his NHL career any time soon. He signed a new five-year, $46 million deal back in January, and is really looking forward to the coming season.
“I love this sport and feel that I have a lot left to give,” said Backstrom in an interview with SportExpressen.
”I have more gas in the tank and I plan to play for many more years. The new guys we have brought in, especially on the back side (Justin Schultz, Trevor van Riemsdyk) will fit in well both in terms of hockey and off the rink. I have learned over the years, how important it is that the new acquisitions fit into the gang.”
“We are eager to fight for the Stanley Cup again, so I am very excited for this coming season,” said Backstrom.
Another reason why Backstrom is looking forward to the 2020-21 season is the arrival of fellow Swede, Henrik Lundqvist. Backstrom believes Lundqvist is a perfect fit for all parties.
“Henke will mean a lot to us with his routine and personality. I’ve played on Tre Kronor with him, so I know what kind of guy he is. And personally, I think it might be good for him to avoid taking on all the responsibility, as he was forced to do for so many years in New York. If I know him right, he will play great with us.”
Backstrom made a short trip back to Sweden following the Capitals early exit from the playoff “Bubble” in Toronto back in August. After only a few days at home in Gävle, he was back in Washington in time for the kids to begin school. He has had plenty of time to think about the team’s early departure from the playoffs.
“It was a big disappointment on our part, how everything took place in terms of hockey and nothing we want to experience again. I do not really know why it went so bad, we did not really have anything good on the team when we came back after the break. We did not start the game on all cylinders.”
The playoffs became a particularly sour story for Backstrom, when he received a questionable shot to the head early in the first game from the Islander’s Anders Lee. He suffered a concussion and missed the next three games.
“It was damn boring, but that’s what happens in this sport. Everyone plays hard when it’s the playoffs, so you have to be careful.”
Backstrom came to America and the Washington Capitals when he was just 19 years old. Now 33, Backstrom is amazed how fast time has gone.
“Absolutely crazy how fast it goes. It’s just running away. I remember what it was like at the draft in Vancouver in 2006 when I was drafted by Washington. Now I am a father of three and live a different life.”
But Backstrom is enjoying his life in America with fiancé Liza, daughter Haley, 7, son Vince, 4 and daughter Alizee, 8 months.
“We have a house out here in the suburb of Arlington, where Capital’s training rink is also located. It works great, thanks in large part to an understanding partner. We are away a lot during the season.”
So what does a typical day look like for Backstrom?
“After practice I go home and have lunch and then get ready for activities with the children in the afternoon. We have tried a lot of different things, horse back riding and ice skating, of course, to name a few.”
Backstrom’s family time includes hockey time with son Vince, who just may become a chip off of the old block.
“Yes, he likes hockey. In the beginning, he went to skating school, but that hour on ice each week was only twenty minutes of activities. The rest of the time he had to stand and listen to instructions and watch when others would do their exercises. So now I rent an hour on my own, so he can go as much as he wants. He has learned to skate really well now and can skate with equipment on him as well. It’s fun to see how fun he thinks it is.”
Backstrom’s business life away from the ice is also going well, investing in property with partners Peter and Kent Forsberg for Lerstenen in Sweden.
“Yes, it’s a great thing that I’m glad I jumped on. Not the least because we are such a good bunch, where Lars and Erik Sällström are the other two co-owners in the company and those with industry knowledge. We have invested in properties along the Norrland coast, so it is exciting to be involved and learn as we go along.”
Backstrom also finds time to support local causes near and dear to him, including cancer awareness and research.
“Yes, it is close to my heart, when my mother Catrin suffered from breast cancer a number of years ago. She is healthy today, but I have my own organization here in Washington with my teammate Tom Wilson called So Kids Can and is there to help children with cancer. We visit hospitals and schools in areas where children have a hard time. I try to stand up as much as I can and this applies not only to the children with cancer but to other young people, whom we can help.”
Back on the ice, Backstrom believes teammate Alex Ovechkin can still catch Wayne Gretzky, and break his all-time goals record.
“”Ovie” needs to score 188 goals to catch up, if I remember correctly. Is there anyone who can take that goal record from Gretzky, it’s him. I actually think he can do it. He has two things he is focusing on now and that is to win the Stanley Cup again and to take that goal record. If he scores 40-50 goals per season, as he usually does, he can do it in four seasons. Why not,” said Backstrom.
You can read the entire interview here.
By Jon Sorensen