Nicklas Backstrom returned to DC after his shortest summer ever as a Washington Capital. After the first day of Training Camp, he answered questions from reporters about the challenges the team will face this season. He also talked through his memory of being handed the Stanley Cup and revealed more about his close relationship with Alex Ovechkin.
He also threw in a few quality dad jokes along the way.
One of the most iconic moments of the Stanley Cup win was when Ovechkin handed the Cup to Backstrom, his alternate captain and teammate of 10 years. It was “a special moment…It’s something I’m never gonna forget.”
Backstrom broke down that memorable moment into two parts: “First, when he told me, too, that he’s gonna do it. And second, when he gave it to me, that was very special.”
Backstrom, the father of two, texted Ovechkin after the birth of Ovechkin’s first child, Sergei.
“[W]hen he got his son, I said, ‘What a summer for you. Two of the biggest things in life, happen in the same summer,'” Backstrom said. “That’s only positive thing for us as a human being.”
He thinks Ovechkin will be a good dad. “He’ll do great, I think. He probably doesn’t have a lot to do now the first couple months, but he’ll get his hands full later.”
A reporter asked him what was a bigger moment: winning the Cup, or having a child? Backstrom joked back that they were “Putting [him] on the spot here.” Then he gave a more thoughtful answer, connecting back to the events of Ovechkin’s summer.
“It’s two different scenarios…being there when they’re born, it’s just an unbelievable feeling,” Backstrom said. “You can’t really compare them. Both are really good big things in life, and to achieve them in the same summer, that’s an accomplishment.”
Not all of the obstacles are from Stanley Cup hangovers or short summers. The rest of the league is going to be prepared to make it as hard for the Caps as possible.
“I think it’s gonna be a different challenge for us, absolutely,” Backstrom said. “But…we’re still hungry….Every game is going to be a lot harder. Because I feel like…when you’re playing the Stanley Cup champs, you really want to beat them. So, every game’s gonna be tougher. But we’ll accept the challenge and go from there.”
The team will rely on its leadership to set the tone, and Backstrom talked about how Ovechkin’s positive attitude helps the team. “It looks like he’s in best mode ever. He’s just laughing all the time, which is great, he’s just gonna carry this over. The way he was playing last year, the way he was relaxed, it’s just unbelievable for us in the locker room to see how he carries himself.”
In some ways, the process this training camp is the same as past years. In order to focus on what comes ahead, they have to “let [the past] go and look forward.” Backstrom emphasized the importance of beginning the season with a strong record. “We gotta play our best hockey to start.”
Backstrom’s dry humor came out when he was asked where the Capitals can improve from last year’s successful campaign.
“I Dunno…We Were Pretty Good Last Year”
— dckerNBC4 (@dckerNBC4) September 14, 2018
After taking a moment to think, he replied, “I don’t know. We’re pretty good last year.” His serious answer was “Everywhere. One of the reasons why we won I think is because we’re so detailed all over the ice. We’re buying into everything we’re told.”
Todd Reirden is starting his first season as head coach, but his long tenure with the team and influence on the systems means there aren’t many changes for the players to deal with. “By now, we should know it, and we can get back to work and really work hard at it.” Whatever differences exist between Trotz’s styles and Reirden’s are in the locker room. Backstrom chose to keep any specifics private. “Overall, he’s maybe doing stuff a little differently, inside the locker room, I think. But that’s between us and him.”
The Caps won the Cup with a young roster, many of whom were in the playoffs for the first time. With a deadpan delivery, Backstrom said, “Yeah, they’re lucky. Winning the first year. That’s great. Good for them.” He’s not worried about how the younger players will be less focused because of their recent run of success. “I feel like they’re great human beings. I think they won’t take anything for granted and will still work hard.”
Headline photo: Capitals
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