Screencap: Washington Capitals
Saturday was “breakdown day” for the Washington Capitals. The day symbolically represents the final day of the 2022-23 season for the team, as players hold final meetings with management and hold their final media availability with local press.
Nicklas Backstrom met with the media early on Saturday morning. He said that he’s obviously disappointed about the 2022-23 season.
“We haven’t been in this situation, too often. The playoffs, that’s why you play the game and that’s where all the fun can happen. It’s disappointing, obviously,” said Backstrom.
Backstrom played in 39 games this season after returning from hip surgery. While playing just half a season was not ideal for Backstrom, he feels he’s made tremendous progress.
“I think the progress has been better. Better and better. Obviously, it’s not ideal to come in mid season, having a big surgery like that. You missed a lot and you’re trying to catch up. It’s not ideal,” said Backstrom.
“I’m optimistic about next year. Have a good summer, the first real good summer in a couple of years and be ready at training camp, and be part of that. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Backstrom feels the team still has the makings of a playoff team and he’s optimistic next year will be different.
“I think the core group here has been with each other for a long time. We’re not happy about the situation. With this group we can regroup and start fresh next year. Hopefully we can get together as a team and really start off the right way. We’re still hungry in here and we still want to win. We need to turn this around.”
The Capitals will have a new bench boss appointed in the coming days. As for the last one, Backstrom had nothing but praise for Peter Laviolette, who parted ways with the team on Friday.
“It’s obviously part of the business that kinda sucks. He’s a great guy. He’s been a great coach for us. We wish him well. He’s done great things. Just looking at the last three years, he’s had some tough breaks. Especially this year too with injuries. He’s been managing the team as a true leader he is.”
Backstrom said he will remain in the DC area until June, when his kids finish school. Then the family will return to his home in Gavle, Sweden.
Backy always take it hard. It was reported he was brought to tears that last two exits prior to the cup. Promised fans they would get it done and they did.
Backy needs to take it home. I’m very happy for his renewed health and loss of pain. But $9.2 M is way too much for an over the hill star who is, at best, a 3rd line center. Yes, he still can pass like a dream – but his lack of speed makes him useful only on the pp …..whick can be said for #8 on most nights
You mean #8, the Caps highest point producer on the team per minute 5 on 5?
Please don’t come back, thanks for the memories but please just don’t come back.
Totally agree!! Time for this team to move on from the past and fading players.
Just a thought: At the very least, the Caps have nine roster spots up for grabs for next season, and the team on the ice in October will look vastly different than the one that played out the string. The focus of many Washington fans and the owner the next two seasons will be on Ovechkin’s chase of Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record. Ovechkin has 822 goals, 72 behind Gretzky. Management must build a competitive roster around its star, preferably with as many younger players as possible. It’s a delicate balance, but it’s the best approach. Shaking up what is left of the the Cup core is going to be the hardest pill for the fans to swallow, but it seems necessary. The GM dealt Dmitry Orlov and Lars Eller, mainstays from the 2018 Stanley Cup team, at this season’s trade deadline. Similar moves could follow this summer. A combination of Nicklas Bäckström, John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov probably won’t be Capitals next season. Kuznetsov has been named in trade rumors and seems most likely to go. Turning Backy and Oshie into either coaches or scouts would also help the team by reducing salary cap and making room for younger players like Frank, CMM, Lapierre, Snively, Malenstyn, Borgstrom, Protas, and maybe even this years 1st round pick .
I would presume Kuzy is probably gone. With his issues and given his age, this may be the time to move on from him. I will miss his goofy personality. Figure Mantha’s gone, too. At least, he just has one year left on his contract so I’m sure a taker could be found.
I will miss his shootout move. Goalies must hate it.
To get rid of Mantha they are either going to give up a pick and prospect or take on an equally bad contract. Moving Mantha at this time is a zero sum game. Kuzy will bring more and that way both the team and Kuzy get a fresh start.
You gotta give Backy a full offseason and normal start to next season. If he sucks, ok then you make a tough decision. But it’s premature at this point.
Agree. I think Backstrom (and Oshie) can surprise next year. Both need to get healthy and they’ll have plenty of time to do it.
These guys are competitors and neither wants to go out like this. They are both back next year. Maybe one or both retire before their final season, but it is way to early to assess that. But for now, the crying for them to retire is just rhetoric because it isn’t going to happen.
Even though he’s relatively old, Nicky should have a better chance of being productive with a normal offseason of training and being ready for the season when it starts, unlike the last two seasons.
I will admit that when Nicky signed his 5 year contract, I had flashbacks to Michael Nylander, the last oldish Swedish center who had signed a long deal with the Caps. Nylander had been very productive with the Rangers and was also an ex-Capital but he was 34 years old at the start of his deal. He started off well but got injured midway through the season and then needed rotator cuff surgery which ended his season. He was back the next year but had fallen to third on the team’s depth chart for center, as Backstrom took over the 1C job in his rookie year and the Caps had also acquired Sergei Fedorov since Nylander was out. So, everyone wanted Nylander gone after Year 2 of his contract. (Or at least everybody except the coaches in the Montgomery County Youth Hockey association who were coaching his kids.)
He ended up being loaned to AHL teams and foreign teams, something that can’t be done in today’s CBA. Fans (and management) are treating Nicky with more respect than they treated Nylander years ago.
I’m discouraged hearing Backstrom talk like that. There are almost no “pieces” left here. There is $9M of cap space committed to a player who is at best a third line center and a team that never did not get noticeably quicker. Is anyone expecting 8/19/74/77 to be better next year? Caps management did this to themselves with those contracts that were rewards rather than investments.
Once again we look outplayed by Pittsburgh. They signed their old “pieces” to club friendly contracts and, despite missing the playoffs, are in a much stronger position than the Caps – as usual. I don’t hate them, I admire them.
And we in DC are in for a few really lean years.
Totally agree on what you are saying. Management should make both Backy and Oshie offers that are to good to refuse to retire. Oshie might just become the 1st player crippled in a game and Backy is no longer a center let him play wing if you must but this team needs to get younger and faster not continue to hang unto players just because they are under contract.
And lean years are more like 7-10 unless they can hit the jackpot in 2 or 3 drafts.
Pittsburgh top six was pretty good this year, no one really overpaid either. They need a good goaltender and 1 or 2 good Dmen but they have around 20millions+ in cap space so they’ll have some money to improve.