After Sweden’s first World Cup of Hockey practice over the weekend, Nicklas Backstrom sat down and spoke with Aftonbladet’s Tomas Ros for a podcast. The interview is a fascinating journey through Backstrom’s career, where he speaks frankly on a number of topics.
Backstrom talks about how he and Liza came up with their baby names, his hole-in-one in Sweden, having his dad’s “grumpy head,” his close relationship with Alex Ovechkin, failing that drug test for an allergy medication in Sochi, the World Cup of Hockey, and how he’d love to end his playing career in the SHL with Brynas.
The Caps center also takes time to thank Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg for the advice he received a decade ago – to stay in Sweden an extra year before starting his NHL career.
Magnus Cadelin has your translation.
Tomas Ros: You had your second child about a week ago, tell us about that.
Nicklas Backstrom: It’s great to have kids. It’s a life changer. It was nice that he came before I had to leave [for the World Cup].
Tomas Ros: You have a daughter, Haley and now you have a boy. What’s his name?
Nicklas Backstrom: Vince.
Tomas Ros: How did you come up with the names Haley and Vince?
Nicklas Backstrom: We wanted names that work both in the US and in Sweden. Hopefully we’ll stay (in USA) for a couple of years. We didn’t want a name that anyone in the family is called.
Tomas Ros: You chose to start the birth of Vince early, planning for the World Cup.
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes, we planned it a bit. We wanted a couple of days together before I had to leave and in the US we had the opportunity to start the birth a couple of days early.
Tomas Ros: How’s your wife (they’re not married) and what was your feeling when Vince came?
Nicklas Backstrom: She’s fine! It was a bit more tense when we had our first child, now with the second I felt a bit calmer, I knew a bit more what to expect. When Haley came I just stood there like a dufus and didn’t know what to do!
Tomas Ros: So you’d say you’re better at handling the puck than when your wife gave birth for the first time?
Nicklas Backstrom: I’m pretty good at helping out…
Tomas Ros: So what did you do, how involved were you in the birth, did you hold Liza’s hand or what did you do?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, I held her hand as most dads do.. I suppose. And her legs.
Tomas Ros: And now you’re the father of two, Nicklas. That’s cool! I’ve followed you since you were a junior player. But about this summer. What was the best thing about this summer? I guess the birth of Vince was the greatest thing, but what other things happened that you remember extra well?
Nicklas Backstrom: As you said, having our second child is of course at the top of the list. It’s always great to come home to Sweden and see family and friends and enjoy the Swedish summer. We had great weather unlike last year. With all the traveling we do during the season, I just wanted to stay at home.
Tomas Ros: So what is ‘home’? A lot of the guys I’ve interviewed in the podcast series have one home in Sweden and one in the USA. What is ‘home’ to Nicklas Backstrom?
Nicklas Backstrom: Home will always be in Gavle. At the same time we really like it in the USA, that’s were we spend most of our time. But Gavle has a very special place in my heart, my hometown.
Tomas Ros: By the way, how many kids do you want? Have you and Liza decided?
Nicklas Backstrom: I don’t know. We’ll have them one by one. If you ask her, you’d probably get a different answer.
Tomas Ros: You could say you have the perfect family, with one daughter and one son.
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, we’ll see. One thing at the time.
Tomas Ros: A thing that stands out about you Nicklas, is that you’re born in November. Not a lot of good players are born that late on the year. Did you notice that growing up, playing TV-pucken (a youth tournament in Sweden), and such?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, not really, but I noticed people around me talking about it, mentioning it as a disadvantage.
Tomas Ros: Did you feel [that disadvantage] at any time?
Nicklas Backstrom: No. When I was like 10, 11, 12 years old, I was pretty small. I grew taller when I was 15, 16, 17. Before that I was one head shorter than everybody. But I don’t know if that has anything to do with me being born late on the year.
Tomas Ros: But did you play with guys born in 1987?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, I played with guys a year older.
Tomas Ros: Despite being born in November? That means they were almost two-years-older than you.
Nicklas Backstrom: I played with guys born in 1986. In Valbo, where I played we had the opportunity [to play with older guys], because there were always teams practicing after us and they always needed players, in case someone was sick or anything.
Tomas Ros: You didn’t have enough players for each year?
Nicklas Backstrom: Exactly. Some guys born in 87 always got to practice with the 86-group, some guys born in 86 practiced with the 85-group and even those born in -84 sometimes. It was great for us to play with older guys.
Tomas Ros: There’s actually a lot of guys in this Tre Kronor team who come from smaller cities. Filip Forsberg from Leksand, Erik Karlsson from Landsbro, Anton Stralman from Tibro and I could go on. It seems like the guys from the countryside have gotten more ice time as kids and been able to develop in a better way.
Nicklas Backstrom: I really agree on that and I think there’s a lot to the fact that there’s a lot of time to practice on the ice, pull together a couple of friends, and just play for fun. Personally, I believe that I learned a lot while just playing around with my friends.
Tomas Ros: I’m going to guess – your brother Kristoffer played hockey and that’s a big reason you’re playing too?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes, that’s true. He played hockey and my father played too. He took me to the rink early in my life, he made ice for us back home. We had school during the days, then practice, then we came back home and played on the homemade rink.
Tomas Ros: How big was that “rink”?
Nicklas Backstrom: Oh, maybe like half a zone. Not that big. But it was enough. We had two goals and skated around, shooting. When I look back at that time, it was incredibly fun back then.
Tomas Ros: There aren’t many of those homemade rinks left in Gavle or Valbo these days, are there? It seems like they have disappeared.
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, and it’s a shame. Wherever you went back then, we had a rink to play at. As long as there’s ice, just go for it. It’s sad you don’t see that as much anymore. At the same time it’s great that a lot of smaller towns have gotten indoor rinks.
Tomas Ros: Doesn’t that spoil us, that we have to go to an indoor rink all the time? Isn’t that great, spontaneous hockey that creates good hockey players?
Nicklas Backstrom: I love those kind of things! Now that I’ve gotten older and have played a couple of Winter Classics. That’s when all those memories of playing in our back yard comes right back. In Gavle, we played in five-degree weather.
Tomas Ros: Was it you against Kristoffer in those games?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, there were a couple of more friends and neighbors.
Tomas Ros: Your dad was a good hockey player, played for Brynas, won the Swedish championship. Your mom played handball. Who are you more similar to?
Nicklas Backstrom: They say I look like my mother and have my father’s head.
Tomas Ros: So the looks from mom and your head for hockey from Anders?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah. A bit grumpy like dad.
Tomas Ros: Do you remember when he took you to Galverinken to watch hockey games, is that where you got that sense of, “Wow, I really want to do this too!?”
Nicklas Backstrom: He retired from Brynas the same year I was born. But a bit later he played for and coached Ostervala and my brother and I came along to watch them practice. That was really fun for us, to come that close to senior hockey at young age. Marcus Ragnarsson (632 games for the Sharks and the Flyers) played for Ostervala and we really looked up to him.
Tomas Ros: Were you hockey crazed as a kid?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, I’d say so. But I liked other sports too. I played soccer, floorball, golf, tennis. Everything that involved a ball or a puck.
Tomas Ros: Is it true you did a hole-in-one as a 13-year-old?
Nicklas Backstrom: It’s actually true. It was a Saturday morning. Hole 17 on the old Gavle course, 180 yards, par 3. I grabbed a spoon and shot it straight to the flag.
Tomas Ros: Were you able to follow the ball al the way or was it just a shock when you got there?
Nicklas Backstrom: We had the sun in our eyes all the way. At first, I thought it went to far, but when I got there I saw it in the hole.
Tomas Ros: Who did you play with?
Nicklas Backstrom: My dad and someone else… I threw the club and started jumping around on the green.
Tomas Ros: Sounds like one of those moments you’d want on film.
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, but I have a pretty good memory of that moment.
Tomas Ros: I’ve never hit a hole-in-one, but I’d love to do that. Is it true that you have to buy everyone champagne or is that just a myth?
Nicklas Backstrom: The myth says you have to buy everyone that saw the hole-in-one champagne.
Tomas Ros: And did you do that?
Nicklas Backstrom: I was 13… I had some soda in the evening.
Tomas Ros: Did you save the ball?
Nicklas Backstrom: I did actually save the ball for as long as I lived with my parents, but then it got lost.
Tomas Ros: Are you a good golfer? What’s your handicap?
Nicklas Backstrom: At best is what I have today, 5.
Tomas Ros: And you play at 5, despite having two kids and everything?
Nicklas Backstrom: Nah, if a play a lot I play at 5.
Tomas Ros: What’s your strength as a golfer?
Nicklas Backstrom: I don’t know. I think I’m pretty good all round. I’m a pretty boring golf player. Try to put it on the green with two strokes. Hopefully a birdie..
Tomas Ros: What have you brought from playing golf to playing hockey?
Nicklas Backstrom: To be focused. In golf you have to focus on every stroke. Same thing in hockey, you have to stay focused in everything you do.
Tomas Ros: Back to hockey. As I said, I’ve followed your career since you came to Brynas and I remember how shy you were back then. You didn’t like to talk to the media. Were you a bit shy back then?
Nicklas Backstrom: Well, obviously I was shy. I didn’t want to step on any toes and kept in the background. When I got called up, there were players like Ove Molin, Tommy Sjodin, Micke Wahlberg. Allt guys I’ve been looking up to as a kid and now I got the chance to play with them. I didn’t want to get in the way, and it probably showed then talking to the media too.
Tomas Ros: What was it like to be in that kind of locker room, with those legends? [Ed. note: In Brynas history, the mentioned players are huge.]
Nicklas Backstrom: I really learned a lot. We had Andreas Dackell (613 games for the Senators and the Candiens) too, a guy I really looked up to. It’s really good for young players to play with older guys.
Tomas Ros: In what ways did you learn from them, just by listening or watching them on the ice?
Nicklas Backstrom: Both. I listened to everything they said and by just watching them play you could see how good they were. You just tried to learn something everyday.
Tomas Ros: Things went fast for you. As an 18-year-old you played 92 games. Playoffs with Brynas, JWC in Leksand/Mora, and won gold for Team Sweden in the 2006 World Championships in Riga, Latvia. How important was it for you to stay that extra season in Sweden?
Nicklas Backstrom: Oh, incredibly important. When I got picked in the draft, I felt I had done some good things, but I wasn’t ready to move as soon as the next season. And I should tell you that one person who helped me to make my decision was Henrik Zetterberg. I talked to him during the summer and he recommended to stay another year and take his spot on the national team.
Tomas Ros: You got to know him during the World Championship?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah. I have him (Zetterberg) to thank a lot for making me stay another year.
Tomas Ros: Did you call him or how did you bond?
Nicklas Backstrom: We met during the summer when I went to Sundsvall to visit some family.
Tomas Ros: And you have the same agent, Gunnar Svensson, too.
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, and he got me thinking. I’d heard of guys making the move a bit early and not been able to take a spot on the NHL roster. It was a good thing. I really appreciate him making me stay.
Tomas Ros: But what did the Caps think about that? They picked you as number four overall and wanted you to go straight away. They were in rebuild mode and were eager to have you play for them.
Nicklas Backstrom: Well, yes. I remember them promising me ice time with the Capitals.
Tomas Ros: How could you be so cool about it? I mean, the NHL is the dream for all the stars over there.
Nicklas Backstrom: Of course it is, but at the same time you have to see for yourself, what’s best for your own development? Sure, they can promise something but…
Tomas Ros: What did they promise you? To give you ice time? Time on the power play?
Nicklas Backstrom: Exactly, they promised me those kind of things. At the same time, I felt it was better for me to play a lot with Brynas.
Tomas Ros: Have you brought this up with Henrik Zetterberg afterwards and thanked him?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, I don’t think we’ve ever spoken about it. But… I can thank him here. Thank you, Henrik!
Tomas Ros: But that might me a good tip for young players out there. For a lot of the players who stay one more year, things have turned out well. Peter Forsberg stayed for a long time in Sweden. You had a really good season 06/07, served as alternate captain and scored 40 points in 45 games.
Nicklas Backstrom: It was the right decision for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for everyone.
Tomas Ros: Why was it the right choice for you?
Nicklas Backstrom: I didn’t feel experienced enough. I only had one full season as a senior player and I felt the SHL was, and still is, a good league. I wanted to stay and grow as a person before I went over there.
Tomas Ros: And we all know what happened when you got to the NHL. You have the most assists by a rookie ever over the last decade. Most assists of all players in the league during the 2014-15 season. You’re an alternating captain for the Capitals. You’ve scored 642 points in 652 games. And along with Alex Ovechkin you’re a part of one of the most feared duos in the NHL. Why do you think things have gone so well for you in the NHL?
Nicklas Backstrom: A huge part of that success is that I play with the guys I play with. During all of my seasons, I’ve played with extraordinary players. One of them is Ovechkin, who obviously scores a hell of a lot of goals. He’s made things easy for me.
Tomas Ros: What kind of relationship do you have with [Ovechkin]? When I visited you 6 or 7 years ago you seemed like really close friends. Are you the same kind of buddies these days?
Nicklas Backstrom: I don’t know. He has his people and I have my family.
Tomas Ros: He just got married, right?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, I heard about that.
Tomas Ros: You didn’t know he was about to get married?
Nicklas Backstrom: I knew about it, but I didn’t know which date. But of course we’re good friends and when we’re on roadtrips we go to dinner and stuff. But when we’re back home in Washington I just hangout with my family and he hangs out with his crew.
Tomas Ros: What does he call you by? Nicklas? The Swede?
Nicklas Backstrom: Backy, I think.
Tomas Ros: He’s that Americanized?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes.
Tomas Ros: What do you call him?
Nicklas Backstrom: Ovi.
Tomas Ros: You use that? That’s more of a cool nickname. In the USA they always use the easy, short nicknames.
Tomas Ros: We are recording this when Tre Kronor just had their first practice and I saw, like so many times before, what a great sense of hockey you have on the ice. Where did you get that and have you always had a great hockey mind?
Nicklas Backstrom: It’s a tricky question..
Tomas Ros: But to me, sense of play is that you see the ice really well and when you get the puck, you already know what to do. Have you always seen the ice so well or is that something you’ve practiced on?
Nicklas Backstrom: To be honest, I think it’s a gift I’ve had since I was younger. But as you grow as a player, your hockey sense develops as well. But for the most part, I think it’s a gift. I honestly don’t have a good answer to that question.
Tomas Ros: Could it be something from your mom, the handball player?
Nicklas Backstrom: She played on the line..
Tomas Ros: Because, not to be mean to your dad or anything, but he wasn’t the best puck handling player on the ice, right?
Nicklas Backstrom: That’s what I’ve heard. It’s probably a combination [of mom and dad].
Tomas Ros: I would argue that you have the fastest hockey brain in the NHL. Do you feel on the ice that you’re quick of thought?
Nicklas Backstrom: I’ve always liked learning new things. And when I step on the ice, I want to know where everybody is.
Tomas Ros: How do you learn to know where everyone is on the ice?
Nicklas Backstrom: That’s a gift too. But something for the younger players listening, to think about is, before you get the puck, look around.
Tomas Ros: So always look around to see where everybody is?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes, but it’s also a system thing. When you’ve played together in the same system for a long time, you know how and where they’ll skate. Just look at the Sedin brothers. They’ve played together for…
Tomas Ros: They’re like two dolphins out there!
Nicklas Backstrom: They know exactly where the other guy is, at all times. It’s really impressive.
Tomas Ros: Do you and Ovechkin have that kind of dolphin language? Can you feel eachothers presence on the ice too?
Nicklas Backstrom: Nah. Not like the Sedins. But I know where he wants to shoot from.
Tomas Ros: And some sauce passes to the far side on the power play..
Nicklas Backstrom: Oh, I like those sauce passes.
Tomas Ros: You made an insane deflection pass against Pittsburgh last spring. You had your back to Ovechkin and still deflected the pass on the volley. Do you know which one I mean?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, I remember. Too bad he didn’t score!
Tomas Ros: Was it luck or did you mean to do it?
Nicklas Backstrom: I didn’t know he was coming there, I just tried and hit it into some space. I guess it was a bit of a fluke.
Tomas Ros: What did Ovi say after that pass?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, no, I told him “You have to score!” [Laughs]
Tomas Ros: Is it true you are one of few players on the team who can bark at and criticize Ovechkin?
Nicklas Backstrom: On every team, players demands certain things of each other. It’s no big deal. Me and Ovi are the longest-serving players on the Caps. Of course we discuss certain things on the ice, like players would in any other team. We respect each other. You need to be able to handle both criticism and praise and we’ve learned to talk to each other during the course of a game.
Tomas Ros: Does he handle criticism in a good way?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, he is. He gets annoyed, then I get annoyed. We’re probably quite similar like that. We just want to get out on the next shift and do something good.
Tomas Ros: Tre Kronor plays Team Russia in the World Cup. Of you and Ovechkin, who has the advantage?
Nicklas Backstrom: Hm, tough question. Hopefully, it will be me.
Tomas Ros: How do you stop him? Interrupt the pass, do you mark only him or… How do you stop him from scoring against Tre Kronor?
Nicklas Backstrom: You have to play close to him. Put your stick on his and try to disturb him. He likes to take the puck from the blue line towards the goal so you’ll have to try and poke check him. He has a good shot on the power play but… “Lunkan” (Henrik Lundqvist) will stop those.
Tomas Ros: We’ll hope so.. The World Cup is your first appearance in the Tre Kronor jersey since the Sochi Olympics. How do you recall that tournament?
Nicklas Backstrom: It was so much fun! A bad ending to it, but the tournament was awesome. It’s fantastic to play for the Swedish national team and it’s a different culture in a Swedish team, compared to a NHL team. All the guys are really close and it’s so much fun to be part of a Swedish team. Every player puts the team first and accepts their roles.
Tomas Ros: A lot of guys say that about the Swedish national team, that they want to win for the group. Don’t you have to want to win for yourselves too? In a way “use your elbows” and want to clinch the game? Isn’t that part of being an elite player?
Nicklas Backstrom: Sure, but what I mean is that you can’t control the system you play in, you don’t make a system for it to fit just one or two guys. We play together and every piece of the team is as important as the next one. At the same time, we’re all different and we have a lot of guys on our team who can win a game for us.
Tomas Ros: So you had that famous winning feeling during the Olympics 2014?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes, things felt great during the tournament. I think we had a good group of guys, good spirit in the team, and that’s one of the most important things in these kind of tournaments. The team that fits in all the pieces of the puzzles at the best possible way to win.
Tomas Ros: And then there’s that famous day of the final. One of the most bizarre sports events I’ve ever been through, where we arrived at that fantastic arena at Sochi, we get the roster in our hands – and Nicklas Backstrom isn’t on it. Take me through the day of the final.
Nicklas Backstrom: It was pretty… weird. Or, everything was normal up until two hours before the game. I was taping my stick when I got called to the IOC or WADA or whatever and they held a hearing with me. They asked me if I had been taking pseudoefedrin. And I explained that I had been taking it for my allergies. They then held a meeting and decided I was suspended for that final game. I went back to the hotel. I felt empty inside. To be honest, I didn’t think at all. I just stared at the wall. I couldn’t do anything about it.
Tomas Ros: You were suspended for the final game, because this pseudoefedrin was on a list.
Nicklas Backstrom: No, that’s wrong!
Tomas Ros: No? Take me through, now is your chance to tell people about it.
Nicklas Backstrom: Pseudoefedrin is allowed, even at Olympics, just at a certain level. And I exceeded the limit. It isn’t a forbidden substance, I just exceeded the allowed levels.
Tomas Ros: What did you do during the final game, did you watch the game?
Nicklas Backstrom: I was at the complex watching the game.
Tomas Ros: In the Olympic village? Were there other athletes asking you why you weren’t playing?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, us hockey players had our own floor and I watched the game from there. I explained for family and friends what happened. And after the game I went down to the press conference.
Tomas Ros: It had to be awful to participate in that press conference. I was there, at that press conference and I remember Mike Babcock sitting there like, “Ok, we just one an Olympic gold medal, but no one really cares about that” and the focus shifted to you and the team doctor Bjorn Waldeback. It had to be awful for you to sit there.
Nicklas Backstrom: It felt incredibly sad. I wish for no one to have to go through such a thing. At the same time, I had nothing to hide at all.
Tomas Ros: Could you have done anything differently?
Nicklas Backstrom: Not take the medicine…
Tomas Ros: But you asked a doctor?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes.
Tomas Ros: But you got your silver medal afterwards. And I think that’s a strange punishment. You weren’t allowed to play the final, but you got your medal and didn’t get any kind of conviction.
Nicklas Backstrom: No.
Tomas Ros: My gut tells me that, “Wait a minute? Why does this show up 2 hours before the final?”
Nicklas Backstrom: Well… That’s your opinion. But I took the test on Wednesday and the final was Sunday. There’s nothing more to say about it.
Tomas Ros: You take these medicines because of what kind of allergies?
Nicklas Backstrom: I’m allergic to grass, to pollens, to dust. All of those things.
Tomas Ros: A sad memory. But you’ll have to find strength in every adversity you face.
Nicklas Backstrom: You have to learn from the things you go thourgh. From this I’ve learned to pay close attention and take care of myself. It’s my own responsibility.
Tomas Ros: You’re more thorough with these things today?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes, you could say that. I’ve learned to listen to myself.
Tomas Ros: So, the World Cup. Tre Kronor, Finland, Russia and the North American U23-team in the same group. Which two teams will go through to the semifinals?
Nicklas Backstrom: It will be Sweden and the U23-team.
Tomas Ros: Really? That’s a bit of an upset. Why? I believe in this team too, they have the speed that many teams will have problems with. But why do you think the U23-team will go through to the semis?
Nicklas Backstrom: They have a good team, a young team. Great speed with things. And it would feel nice if not Finland and Russia went through… [Laughs]
Tomas Ros: What should Ovi say about that?
Nicklas Backstrom: He can say what ever he wants..
Tomas Ros: What will be the decisive things for the group stage?
Nicklas Backstrom: I think, as I said before, the team that gets the group together the best will win. Power play and penalty kill will be really important in these kind of short tournaments, it’s always important on the smaller ice. When you get the chance you have to score on the power play.
Tomas Ros: We’ve seen one practice here in Gothenburg, you practiced power play for 10-15 minutes. On PP1 there’s you and Hornqvist and Filip Forsberg, two right shooters, with Erik Karlsson on the blue line and Gabriel Landeskog behind the net. How important is it to get the power play going from the first practice?
Nicklas Backstrom: Well, we haven’t played against anyone yet. But we’ve felt the positions, moved the puck around a bit. We’ll see how things look in a couple of days when we play against opponents.
Tomas Ros: You’re leading one power play formation and the Sedins lead the other one. How do you want the play to look like when you send that pass?
Nicklas Backstrom: I like direct shots, with me on the right side.
Tomas Ros: You want to seek passes from the face off circle?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yes, but Landeskog and I move around a bit. We have a right-handed shooter in the middle and one at the far face off circle, and the point man. All those three are right hand shooters. Personally, I like a direct shot because it’s so tough for the goalie. You need to have a couple of set plays and really practice them. When you get on the power play, you have to create scoring chances.
Tomas Ros: But it seems like a pretty nice task for you to look for Erik Karlsson, Filip Forsberg or Patric Hornqvist.
Nicklas Backstrom: It’s great! It’s like a dream!
Tomas Ros: For a lot of guys on the team, like the Sedins and Henrik Lundqvist, this might be the last chance to win something big with Tre Kronor. Does it feel like you want to win a little bit extra just for these guys?
Nicklas Backstrom: I haven’t even thought about it. Those guys might feel it that way, I don’t know. But I think Swedish players have this great desire for winning things. Anyone, even if you guys (of the media) see it like it’s their last chance of winning. We always want to win. And if it’s the last chance, then that’s the way it is.
Tomas Ros: What tournament is the biggest for you, World Cup or the Olympics?
Nicklas Backstrom: Those tournaments are so different. The Olympics are special in its own way, a lot of different sports, you live together with other athletes, and I think that’s really cool. This is more of a NHL tournament, but if you win the World Cup it’s the same feeling, since all of the best players are participating.
Tomas Ros: Sweden has won the Olympics once, when all of the best players were in it, 2006, but we have never one the Canada Cup or the World Cup. It’s a tough challenge. How do you cope with three games in four games. Soccer players have to rest for a week between every game…
Nicklas Backstrom: We’re used to playing a lot of games, we often play back-to-back, it’s no news.
Tomas Ros: A couple of quick questions. Will you ever play for Brynas again?
Nicklas Backstrom: I don’t know, but I hope so.
Tomas Ros: You want to finish your career in the SHL?
Nicklas Backstrom: I can’t answer for sure right now, but it would be fun to come back home and play for Brynas again. It’s a club with traditions, a club close to my heart.
Tomas Ros: Which goalkeeper in the NHL do you find hardest to score against?
Nicklas Backstrom: I have to say Lundqvist.
Tomas Ros: Is that true or do you just say that because his in Tre Kronor?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, I’ve said that before Holtby, I’ve had Lundqvist as the best goalie in the league.
Tomas Ros: What makes him so tough to score on?
Nicklas Backstrom: He’s so quick and big. You don’t get much net from him. He’s impressive.
Tomas Ros: Which one would you rather win – World Cup or Stanley Cup?
Nicklas Backstrom: Both!
Tomas Ros: You have to pick one.
Nicklas Backstrom: World Cup right now.
Tomas Ros: Great answer! Now a question from a colleague, a Brynas fan. Why do you have number 19?
Nicklas Backstrom: When I got called up to the senior squad in Brynas, they gave me that number.
Tomas Ros: So you’ve never chosen that number?
Nicklas Backstrom: No, it just became my number. When I was younger, playing in Valbo, I had number 12.
Tomas Ros: Dackell had number 12 in Brynas, right?
Nicklas Backstrom: Yeah, but I never got to chose. When I got 19, I just thought “That’ll do.”
Tomas Ros: Number 19 has become a bit of your brand. It’s a pretty cool number.
Nicklas Backstrom: It looks good! I think Markus Naslund likes it too. And Steve Yzerman.
Tomas Ros: That’s right. Who else wears 19?
Nicklas Backstrom: Toews!
Tomas Ros: I think you’ll have to fight to make 19 your trademark.
Nicklas Backstrom: I think so too.
Tomas Ros: Over the years, I must’ve asked you more than a hundred questions. Now you have the opportunity to ask me a question!
Nicklas Backstrom: How can you be a fan of Leksand?! (Brynas’s biggest rival club)
Tomas Ros: Whoops… I’m I a fan of Leksand? Well, I grew up in Leksand. I was born in 1971 and back in those days and when you picked a team as a 7-8 year old, there were only two teams. You supported Leksand or you supported Brynas and I chose the blue and white team. Is Leksand your biggest enemy team, the club you never could represent?
Nicklas Backstrom: Nah, I just asked that because of the rivalry between our clubs.
Translation by Magnus Cadelin.
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