“You Want to Finish on Your Own Terms”: Nicklas Backstrom Says Finishing His Career the Way He Wanted Was A Factor in Offseason Hip Surgery

Jordan Bondurant/NoVa Caps

The Washington Capitals will be without their longtime stalwart down the middle, Center Nicklas Backstrom, for a good chunk of the season (at least) after the former first-round pick underwent offseason hip surgery to correct an ailment that has plagued the franchise’s Assists leader for a number of years. During his first press conference of the season, Backstrom revealed the rewards outweighed the risks for him in having the procedure done.

While Backstrom returned to the Capitals’ lineup after missing the start of last season, his play and off-ice activities were a struggle.

“I’m pain free”, Backstrom said, “…Feeling good, I’m in the gym, working out, doing my rehab, so far so good…I’m doing things that I haven’t been doing for many years, so that’s a good start…It was a life-changer for me in daily life. Just to pick up socks, tie my shoes, play with my kids, I couldn’t really do that either, I think it helped me a lot functionally.”

Backstrom’s procedure was potentially a risky one. A return to hockey was in question at one stage, however, after consulting with other athletes who underwent the same procedure, Backstrom felt confident he needed to do it.

“I think I tried everything else to make it better. This was kind of like the last resort on unproven technology for sports. I had to do it, I had no other choice”, Backstrom admitted, “It’s either that or skate on one leg. I talked to [tennis star] Andy Murray, and [NBA player] Isaiah Thomas, a couple guys in the Swedish elite league…They were all positive about it.”

Backstrom is unlikely to return to the ice anytime soon, however he believes that the Caps will welcome him back to the ice at some point this season,

“Me personally, I’m very optimistic. And I’m very optimistic that I’m going to play before the season ends. I think that it’s going to be the body telling me and obviously a couple of other factors too; you got to have the doctors’ clearance and how we handle that too”, he admitted.

In January 2020, the Capitals re-signed Backstrom to a five-year contract, ensuring that he will end his career in the District. Backstrom negotiated the deal himself and admitted that finishing his career on his own accord was part of the decision to take the chance on the surgery. “I came back, it felt good for a couple games”, he said, “After a couple of years when you’ve gone through this, mentally it’s tough to live that way and play that way.”

“It was big, it was big actually. That’s what I always said to myself too, ‘you want to finish on your own terms, not because of an injury and you play through stuff you don’t want to’. I’m optimistic I get to do that now.”

Backstrom is mostly doing cardio at this stage and is working toward getting his leg to full strength.

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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4 Responses to “You Want to Finish on Your Own Terms”: Nicklas Backstrom Says Finishing His Career the Way He Wanted Was A Factor in Offseason Hip Surgery

  1. Anonymous says:

    Does Backy look like he put on a pound or two?

  2. novafyre says:

    I’m very optimistic that I’m going to play before the season ends.

    So let’s say he comes back in March. Doesn’t that mean his salary counts against the cap for the whole year? Isn’t that the point of a Kuch? Aren’t we really weighing using his salary space versus number of games he will end up playing?

    • DWGie26 says:

      Yeah, if he comes back, his pro-rated salary will count. so only for the games he is not on LTIR. It’s all talk right now and they will evaluate as it gets closer. But they certainly can play in the media that they are going to do a Kuch.

      If Backstrom is going to be back in the regular season they will surely move Eller before that. I think they star looking at moving Eller about the time Wilson comes back.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well, he’s smiling. That’s a very good start.

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