Stick Taps to Nicky: Former and Current Teammates, Fellow Swedes, And More Pay Tribute To Nicklas Backstrom on the Night of His 1,000th Game

Photo: Getty Images

Center Nicklas Backstrom has been not only an important piece of the Washington Capitals’ core for the past 14 seasons, he has been one of the franchise’s best players to have laced the skates. That’s why the team pulled out all the stops on Thursday night to celebrate the former first-round pick’s 1,000th game of his career, all with the Capitals. Included in the festivities were video tributes from former and current teammates, NHL and Swedish greats, members of the organization, and more.

Retired defenseman Mike Green spent 10 seasons with the Caps from 2005-2015, before leaving in free agency, and eight playing alongside Backstrom. The two were part of the team’s “Young Guns” era, which also included Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. The four were part of a core of players that returned the Capitals to contenders for the Stanley Cup, and were among the league’s best offensive teams, winning the President’s Trophy in 2010 after a then-frnachise record 54-win season. In his video, Green congratulated Backstrom on his 1,000-game achievement and wished him the best of health in the years to come, among other heartfelt words.

Forward Brooks Laich was also a member of those Young Guns teams, and played nearly nine seasons alongside Backstrom before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his tribute video, Laich called playing with Backstrom, “An absolute pleasure in my life”, and praised Backstrom’s part in growing hockey in Washington, D.C., saying that Capitals fans are “lucky to have you”.

Former Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby (now a member of the Vancouver Canucks) arrived in Washington a couple years into Backstrom’s career, but played the better part of a decade with Backstrom, backstopping the team to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2018. Holtby called Backstrom, “an amazing player, but an even better teammate and friend”, and expressed his pride in Backstrom for reaching 1,000 games.

Perhaps there is no better player to understand the momentous occasion of a 1,000th NHL and Capitals game than Alex Ovechkin, the only other player in franchise history to reach 1,000 games with the franchise. The longtime teammates have been through thick and thin together in a Capitals sweater, starting Backstrom’s rookie season of 2007-08, and through the breakthrough Stanley Cup victory in 2018. The Capitals’ captain congratulated Backstrom and his family on the milestone, stating, “It’s fun to watch how you’ve grown up as a person, as a player”. He also wished Backstrom, “1,000 more games to come”.

Defenseman Victor Hedman may don the Tampa Bay Lightning sweater on a nightly basis, but he is currently one of the NHL’s best Swedish-born players, having won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best blueliner in 2018 and been a finalist four times, and won the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy in the Lightning’s run in 2020. Hedman congratulated his fellow countryman on the achievement of 1,000 games, calling it “an amazing accomplishment”, and wishing Backstrom many more to come.

Members of the Capitals’ community, including radio personality Elliot Segal, MedStar Capitals Iceplex Rooftop Hockey members, and local charities all paid tribute to Backstrom’s charitable work off the ice and his accomplishment of 1,000 games.

The Capitals shared other tribute videos from current and former teammates, Swedish NHLers, and Backstrom’s first Head Coach in the NHL, Bruce Boudreau, Capitals Majority Owner Ted Leonsis, General Manager Brian MacLellan, and Assistant General Manager Ross Mahoney on their special N1KY website created for the milestone game. Those tributes can be seen HERE.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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