Nicklas Bäckstrom’s hip injury and resultant surgery in June could have meant the end of his hockey playing career. But so far, that’s not the case. He’s currently preparing for his 16th season in the NHL by working hard with his personal trainer in Stockholm.
“Hockey has been my life and I don’t want to think that it will end one day. But after another operation, it feels good for the first time in years,” he said in an exclusive interview with SportExpressen.
Backstrom admitted he’s been pretty lucky with regards to injuries over the course of 15 seasons.
“Yes, I have been. I had a regular hip operation eight years ago and then felt fine for a few years. But after that it just got worse and worse. I have had problems for years…It is difficult to describe the feeling, it stings. I have had difficulty walking. Hard to put on my socks and tie my shoes. It’s been hectic and generally frustrating – to be honest,” said Backstrom.
“It’s no fun walking around in pain. I’ve been limping to the hall and even skating has been a little easier than walking. The family has had to take the hit. I couldn’t even play with the kids. It has been very tough.”
Backstrom described the surgery he had in very basic detail. He remains very optimistic he will return to the Capitals lineup this coming season.
“My hip ball was uneven, so it lay and rubbed, so it hurt. Now the hip ball is cut in half and I have like a metal shell around it, it becomes like a protection in the notch. It feels very good now. Then we’ll see how it feels when the game is at its most intense this winter. I am optimistic for the first time in many years.”
Backstrom has been thinking a lot about life after his playing career. Part of his new life includes investment businesses with fellow Swedish hockey great Peter Forsberg.
“Hockey has been everything to me for 33 of my 35 years. I have it in the back of my mind. I know that day will come. It feels unfunny that there will come a day when I can’t play anymore. At the same time, you have to be realistic. This cannot go on forever.”
Bäckström and Forsberg have both started businesses, together with a third family in Umeå, which has long been in the real estate industry. The two hockey stars entered a completely new world and they have both invested several million kroner in real estate.
“Together we have over 2,000 apartments. Mainly in Umeå, but also some in Gävle. I find that industry very interesting,” said Backstrom.
The Capitals are expected to open training camp around the third week of September, with opening night set for October 12 against the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena. It’s extremely unlikely Backstrom will see the Capitals lineup anytime soon, but don’t count him out just yet.
By Jon Sorensen