Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is about to start his 17th season in the NHL. This off-season has been different than in recent summers for the 35-year-old, as he has finally been able to return to normal off-season preparations, as opposed to rehabbing from surgery.
“Yes, but it’s been very different now. I’ve been pretty open about everything that’s happened to me, and I haven’t been able to train the way I wanted to in recent years, but now this year I’ve had a great summer and been on the ice before so I’m looking forward to the season.”
Backstrom knows the road back will not be easy, but feels he still has plenty left to give back to the game.
“You are realistic and know that the league gets faster, and it gets tougher the older you get. At the same time, I feel that I have a lot left to give and I am very optimistic, myself.”
With Backstrom turning 36 in late November and Alex Ovechkin turning 38 before the start of the season, there are concerns about how many more chances they would have to win the Stanley Cup with the Capitals.
“We have a little bit left in the tank and that’s what we’re going on. We would like to win again and have been talking about it for a long time. We want a chance to win, and we will do everything for that. Age may play a small role, but I think the mental aspect is even more important.”
Photo: Hockey News Sweden
During the off-season, Swedish defenseman and long-time friend of Backstrom’s, Erik Karlsson, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals’ long-time arch-rivals. Backstrom is looking forward to facing Karlssson as a Penguin.
“It’s fun for him, of course. As I understand it, he has wanted to move. I am looking forward to meeting Erik Karlsson more often. Then I’ll hack him on the calves.”
Backstrom also shared his thoughts on international competition. The last time this happened was during the hockey World Cup in 2016 which took place at Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario.
“Of course, it’s needed for hockey. Hopefully, after everything that has been with covid and the Olympic tournaments that were difficult for the NHL players, I hope of course that many want to play for the national team because it is something special to win for their country. The Stanley Cup is incredibly nice to win and an incredible performance over a season, but to win for your country is special as well.”
👋 Eddy pic.twitter.com/xJ54VDspdj
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) August 28, 2023
The full interview, including a video in Swedish, can be found here.
By Diane Doyle