Nicklas Backstrom: “It’s Been Tough, Mentally, If I’m Being Completely Honest”

Photo: Amelia Mauritzon/Gefle Dagblad

The Washington Capitals off-season is now going full force, with many of the players currently on vacation with family and friends, and even a few players already returning to workouts for the upcoming season. The down time has allowed time to heal, and for some, time to reflect on the last 12 months.

Capitals centerman Nicklas Backstrom, who’s currently vacationing with his family in Halkidiki, Greece, has had some time to reflect on his last 12 months and shared his thoughts in a recent interview with  for Gefle Dagblad.

“It’s been tough mentally, if I’m being completely honest. But I have spoken to others who have had this operation, I actually fished out tennis player Andy Murray’s number and spoke to him, he has been able to continue playing,” Backstrom told Gefle Dagblad.

“We had a good conversation and he told me that this particular operation was successful for him. It felt good to hear.”

Backstrom told Sandstrom he still has the desire to play and to prove that he can still play at an elite level.

“I want to prove that I can play at a high level even after what I’ve been through,” said Backstrom. “It’s the love of hockey. I don’t feel ready to stop and still think it’s right to keep going. I want to prove that I can play at a high level even after what I’ve been through,” he said.

Photo: Amelia Mauritzon/Gefle Dagblad

Backstrom spent the first half of last season rehabbing from his hip surgery, which didn’t allow for the usual preparations for the start of an NHL Season. He’s looking forward to returning to a normal prepati9n for the upcoming season.

“Now I can look forward to playing, and for once, training for real during a pre-season and being part of the training camp with the team and not just doing rehab training and then coming in in the middle of the season, as has been the case for a few years now,” said Bäckström.

Backstrom, who had his hip surgery in June of 2022, says he feels much better 12 months later. He’s even joking about the new parts in his hip.

“I can do everything now. I have to go through security at airports a few extra times, there are beeps everywhere and I have to explain that I have metal legs,” he grins.

For Backstrom and his family, a summer awaits in Gävle, his hometown in Sweden.

“The children are very Americanized, of course, because they have lived there all their lives except in the summers when we are home. The youngest girl prefers not to speak Swedish, she answers in English when we speak Swedish to her. But they get into it pretty quickly when we get home anyway.”

Photo: Amelia Mauritzon/Gefle Dagblad

As for Swedish hockey fans, particularly those in Bäckström’s hometown area, the question remains, will he return to play for Brynas someday?

“So, I can’t stand here and promise things that will happen in the future. But what I can say is that I have a dream to play in Brynäs,” said Backstrom.

“Now I’m fresh in my body. But at the same time, you’re not 19 anymore. I have to take a year at a time now at this age. If it happens, it happens. But I have a dream about it,” says Bäckström, who is 35 years old.

Thanks to  and Gefle Dagblad for assisting with this story.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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24 Responses to Nicklas Backstrom: “It’s Been Tough, Mentally, If I’m Being Completely Honest”

  1. franky619 says:

    Buy out window open.t”ill friday. I can’ believe Maclellan would entertain the idea of bringing back the same team and believe it’s gonna OK.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well Spencer stated today that he believes he can fix Mantha. FORSHADOWING…..embrace the suck!

      Backstrom has had a great legacy and is a Capital Legend. It is time to retire, spend time with his kids and spend money. Every loss the Caps suffer this season will be directly related to his contract. Allowing him to play at this point is basically just trying to not hurt his feelings. Go out on top and retire Backstrom!

  2. andrew777dc says:

    Ehm, are we stuck or are we unstuck?

  3. redLitYogi says:

    As GMBM, it’s Backstrom’s decision to make. There is a chance that he is able to more fully recover. He was never a super fast skater to begin with, so I’m curious as to what additional limitation he faced after the procedure. He said he felt better and skated faster. But something had to be wrong. Did it cost him drive and power in his skating so that he couldn’t deal with battles for position and pucks?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Never surrender Nicky!

  5. hockeydruid says:

    OK, So he still wants to play at an elite level and he has a dream. IF he cannot play any better than he did when he came back will he retire or will he keep pushing. To me this is a problem that many athletes have, knowing when to retire. He has and a great career and maybe rather than embarrass himself maybe it is time to go quietly into the night and let people remember him as he was not as he was last season. Father Time catches all!! And to GMBM it is your JOB and you are paid to make the decision if a player can play and help the team or not and it never was, is or will be the players decision. SO grab you manhood, stand tall and make a decision even in Nicky does not like it: are the centers and forwards on this team and in Hershey better than Nicky right now (not the Nicky of 5-8 years ago)?

    • andrew777dc says:

      This may be why he indicated playing for his old team in Sweden as a cop-out, if things don’t work out no more with the (i.e. for the) Caps

  6. Anonymous says:

    Backstrom on LTIR solves a lot of problems

    • andrew777dc says:

      True that. Question is, would he ever agree? Or face being… benched?..

      • Anonymous says:

        Mark Stone and Backstrom should connect😃

      • hockeydruid says:

        The GM could be a man and treat him like a player not his boss and tell him its either the LTR or we cut you or you retire. If you don’t make a choice I am going to…do what is best for the team and release you. I bet he could work out a settlement with the Caps to retire an still receive the money owed him over say 10 years.

  7. Scottlew73 says:

    Uh dumb question,other than ball what’s trying to hit you in Tennis? Might want to check Backy for little post concussion damage!
    How’s the old saying in sports go “…Father Time is thus far undefeated!”,thinking team needs to be honest & tell him will help you transition to off-ice role but your on ice is done! He’s still got another 30-40 years of life left don’t lessen that time just to protect your legacy!
    Hell if Pierre Turgeon can be elected to HHOF ,they’re be no doubt you’ll get in.

  8. novafyre says:

    We want highly motivated players, players who will think hockey 24/7/365, give up summers to work out, rehab, and train. We want that single minded dedication.

    Can we then blame them when they find it hard to retire? When they retire and then come back? In other sports I can name Brady and Phelps without even thinking. And, of course, the shining example in hockey is the ageless Jagr. When will he retire? Lundqvist didn’t want to retire — he was forced to. And he’s back in the studio even though that was not his plan when he did retire.

    Ollie was on the ice in CV congratulating the Bears winning the Calder Cup. He owns a WHL team. Works part time for the Caps. He can’t get away from it.

    With the best ones, it’s not just a job.

    • hockeydruid says:

      I think all players have a hard time retiring an that is why and what the GM gets paid to do; tell them “Thanks for your time but you are no longer an asset to this team.” And that is what Backy is at this time a non-asset. There is already one player who seems to be making decisions for this team and has also been called a “Coach killer” so now we have another player who is going to also be a GM. Wonder what other team has 3 GM’s?

      I have no problem with retired players owning teams, check out the Hunter brothers, Gretzky at one time was part owner of the Coyotes and Oilers. Lemieux the Pens and in other sports check out Michael Jordan, Mahomes (KC Royals), The Williams sisters (Dolphins), O’Neal (Kings) and many ex players have bought into soccer teams. They need someplace to invest their money and also for some it is a job after their playing days that they have knowledge of and interest in. Nothing wrong with that and certainly not a “Can’t get away from”.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        Agree on difficulty retiring. It’s what they’ve done all their lives, it’s what they love.

        • hockeydruid says:

          My problem is the GM letting Backy make that decision. He needs to take him aside and tell him that he has 3 choices: retire (and we will work out a payment play for what is owed you), go on LTR for a year and then retire or sad to tell you this we just cut/release you.

          • DWGie26 says:

            It really isn’t the GM’s job to tell someone when to retire. But going back to end of last year, GMBM certainly made it public that there is an expectation that he returns to high level of play. So he is working a process here.

  9. dwgie26 says:

    I am actually cautiously optimistic on what we will see from Backstrom when he comes to camp. I would like to see him at wing though because I think McMichael needs to play 3C next year. And I also think there needs to be real conversations with team brass and doctors to access his future mid-way through the season. If it just isn’t working out by January, then perhaps he goes on permanent LTIR and we have 9.2M to go shopping at trade deadline. But he is going to get his chance to have an offseason, training camp, and at least half a season before long-term decisions are made.

    • andrew777dc says:

      This actually sounds quite logical. And sensible. Got your idea about him going wing now)

    • franky619 says:

      Yeah and by the time you realise you should have done something in the summer you’ve already wasted the chance to improve your team because you were cap strapped thanks to his atrocious 9.2mil contract, you’re already halfway through the season which is gonna be wasted since you kept Backstrom, and trading for a rental will cost draft picks and prospects. Good way to waste another season.

      • dwgie26 says:

        Or he ends up being OK and things work out. But you aren’t going to make that decision for one of the top three Caps in history without giving him the summer and training camp. There is no other way if you want to maintain the culture the Caps have worked hard to build.

        • franky619 says:

          Being OK, yeah right good one. What culture are you referring to, this team went past the 2nd round only once in 16 yrs with Backstrom on this team and it”s certainly not thanks to him. Tampa and Vegas had more playoff success in thepast 6 yrs than the Caps had the past 25yrs. They need a culture change cause all they are developping right now is a loosing culture.

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