Nicklas Backstrom Ready For Start Of Training Camp After “Normal” Off-season

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom described his off-season in one word: Normal. A word that he has not been able to use in years. His future was very uncertain after he underwent hip resurfacing surgery. He miraculously returned to Washington’s lineup in early January and played out the rest of the season, racking up 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 39 games. 

 “Coming back midseason is tougher than you think. You’re trying to play catch up with yourself so it’s tougher than you think,” Backstrom said on the Elliot in the Morning Podcast on Thursday. “I’m really excited to be there from the start and be a part of it.”

 RELATED: Nicklas Backstrom on Preparations for 2023-24 Season: “I’ve had a great summer”

Outside of being fully healthy, the Swedish center spoke about his excitement to work with new Caps head coach Spencer Carbery. 

“He was in the organization. He would have always, always participated in the camps before when he was in Hershey. I knew what kind of personality and stuff he was,” Backstrom said. “The first thing I noticed when I talked to him was, he was really pumped to be here. He’s a very positive, energetic guy which I think is great.”

The new coaching staff is young. Carbery is the youngest coach in the NHL at 41 and assistant coach Mitch Love is 39, which is why president of hockey operations and general manager Brian MacLellan brought in 57-year-old Kirk Muller, who brings 17 years of coaching experience to Washington’s bench.

“He’s been there for many years in the league. He’s been around a couple of teams that are well respected around the league. So that’s obviously something positive,” Backstrom said. “He’s been playing in this league before, so he knows what it’s all about.”

The 35-year-old also touched on Carl Hagelin’s sudden retirement in late August. No. 19 was very close with the fellow Swede and was in the locker room when the incident happened. 

“It was very unfortunate that the blade just hit a really bad spot in his eye. I think Carl can speak for himself about the details, but I saw him come into the locker room and it was not a nice view,” Backstrom said. 

With training camp just seven days away, Backstrom believes the Caps have enough talent once again to compete for a playoff spot and go on a deep run. 

“Even if we haven’t added guys from the outside, we still have a lot of talent from underneath,” Backstrom said. “I think we had a good team last year too. I think everyone is looking for a bounce back season.”

By Jacob Cheris

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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13 Responses to Nicklas Backstrom Ready For Start Of Training Camp After “Normal” Off-season

  1. Anonymous says:

    I stand with you. I’m very optimistic on these Caps. Love that we are under the radar. Staying healthy(and Max getting healthy) are key. Need a big bounce back year from Kuzy, Backy, and Mantha…and rest, and the new young guys. This season shall be very interesting.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Caps have a roster of which many NHL fans would be envious. And everybody starts the season healthy, Max Patch the exception
    Backstrom mentions Carbery’s infectious optimism. Pete L radiated infectious fatalism. He was technically good, “Xs and Os” but he couldn’t hide AT ALL that he thought the 2022-23 Caps were a lost cause.
    I’m with “anonymous” and optimistic on the Caps. Between the two of us we’re outvoted 22-2 on the comment boards of NovaCapsFans dot com. Bring on Training Camp!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sadly it appears as if Backstrom wants to be selfish and erode his legacy by continuing to play. I hope GMBM helps him smell the salts. I expect GMBM to cower though and throw him a jersey though.

    Yeah I’m ready, ready for the 24-25 season, no Mantha, better chance of Backstrom and Carlson’s contracts gone. I imagine Oshie and Carlson should be gone at trade deadline this year. Besides Backstrom retiring or being traded and tanking for a draft pick, those are the reasons to have hope for this season.

    But yeah Nicky, we are ready to get this over with too.

    Everyone remember these warm fuzzy PR moments while the Caps are being destroyed this season due to GMBM’s inability to build a roster.

    I can hear the excuses now “we have a lot of new guys who are adjusting and it will take some time to find their game” and “we are giving the youth some time to learn from the vets”, “we had people with injuries”.

    Also Nick, if you thought last years team was good, this years team is bad and if last years was “good” and this years is “bad” how close did that bring you to a cup last year?

    This team can not compete with Backstrom’s contract on it followed by Carlson’s

    • Doug says:

      though and though

      • Anonymous says:

        Yeah not fun and I don’t enjoy making posts like this but the fans and the media need to hold GMBM accountable. Or we can just observe the gaslighting in the PR tactics when the Caps give media interviews like this with a damage control agenda.

        Good team last year? Losing respect for Backstrom as each day passes. If he steps on the ice this season, his legacy is dead to me. Backstrom is the reason Ovie and the rest of the team will not see another cup in the Ovechkin era. Carlson is right behind Backstrom in that mix.

        • Anonymous says:

          Also we don’t owe Backstrom anything, he has been fairly compensated via his contract. Both sides delivered on the deal however Backstrom can not anymore.

          I have been as big of a Backstrom fan as the next guy in the past however if he plays it is less a bad move on his part as GMBM allowing him to have a jersey.

          Ultimately this is a failure of the front office, GMBM and leadership. They need to lead the team and tell Backstorm it is time to hang up the skates or be traded.

          • Anonymous says:

            Who would trade for him? And why piss off Ovie over a contract that will end in 2 years. Congrats you foresaw the COVID out break and a flat cap. Nobody thought his game would crater like it did. Hopefully the surgery and a full off season helps.

  4. andrew777dc says:

    I can’t help but “have a bad feeling about this”… He should know better about his own health, right? But the ice will tell. How many times in recent years, when the Caps were experiencing some problems in the first round, did Backy say all those right words, express optimism that we can break through, etc., for things only to get worse? And it’s not like everyone was not pulling their weight, while Backy was there as a game-changer. He fell through just the same. Yes, this was pre-surgery, he was playing through pain, and all that. But we know how he can smooth-talk with no practical outcome. So with all due respect for his immense contribution in years past, I wonder how many games would it take for the higher ups to decide this is it, if indeed he is not up to task and is taking up cap and roster space? Same goes for Kuzy and Mantha.

    • Anonymous says:

      Kuzy is fine, he was frustrated with HCPL’s system. I bet Kuzy has a year he is capable of and blows everyone away. Mantha being in the NHL is pathetic. Don’t care about his fragile mental state dude should never be on skates. The day Mantha leaves the Caps will be a day worthy of celebration parallel to winning a cup.

      In another interview Backstrom said he is sick of people asking questions about his recovery. He is delusional and sounds pretty entitled to me.

      Someone needs to tell Backstrom he is single handedly setting this team up for failure for the purpose of him feeling included in something he no longer is.

      • Anonymous says:

        I wouldn’t give up 18 million in my final NHL contract. And you have no idea how that room feels about him. This year is the key. If he fails I will admit you were correct and hopefully they LTIR him.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Now that the season is starting up, I’ve had time to reflect.

    My most memorable games last season were all in Hershey. Turn this boat around Carbs!

  6. DWGie26 says:

    I can’t believe all of the hate. Backstrom is a professional. He has played hockey pretty much his whole life. I’ll reserve judgement until we see him play for a bit.

    The hardest thing about coming back from a major injury is the mental aspect. Trusting you knee won’t buckle. Achilles won’t snap again. This is worse than those injuries so he has to be mentally strong. I actually dig what he is saying. That’s leadership.

    I also buy getting in summer of work, full training camp, starting the season. We could see a much improved Backstrom. If he is not able to play the way he wants/needs to then some decisions can be made.

    For now, Let’s go 19!

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