On Monday night, Nicklas Backstrom tallied his 600th assist against the Vancouver Canucks on an Alex Ovechkin power-play goal, in the building where Ovi first drafted him 12 years ago. Nicky became just the 87th player in NHL history to record 600 career assists, and the first from his 2006 draft class.
In a video posted following the game, the Capitals paid tribute to Backstrom as one of the most “unselfish” players in hockey.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 23, 2018
“600 assists,” TJ Oshie said, of Backstrom’s latest career milestone. “An assist is one of the most unselfish things you do in hockey. And Nick is that guy. He’s unselfish, he’s always looking to get someone else the credit.”
It’s not just Backstrom being unselfish that makes the team admire him. John Carlson singled out Backstrom’s ability to play at a high level. The Swedish center brings everyone else’s level of play up as a consequence.
“He sees the ice better than anyone I’ve ever seen, and can control the puck and be ready to shoot or pass whenever he wants. Just his awareness is his biggest asset,” Carlson said. “The way that he plays such a high level, but also how much he cares about the other guys in the room, and helps guys along. He’s got an effect on everyone in that locker room.”
Ovechkin, who Backstrom has been inextricably linked to throughout their careers together, had plenty to say about him both on and off the ice. Of Backstrom’s 600 career NHL assists, 234 (39%) have come on Ovechkin goals.
“He means a lot on the ice, and off the ice,” Ovechkin said. “We grown up together, as a player and as a person. He’s one of the best passer I’ve ever seen. All of his assist, I’ve been most of them on the ice. It’s nice to stick together and go through it together.”
More than one player also remarked on the kind of leader Backstrom chooses to be for the team.
“Nick’s one of a kind,” goaltender Braden Holby said. “Patient, calm, and that’s why he’s an amazing leader for our team. He’s always not taking any of the credit, and he’s doing a lot of the hard work. So, he’s one of a kind.”
Brooks Orpik added, “Nicky is someone that I admired, even when I played against him. He’s definitely the quiet leader of the team. Just goes about his own business, but he’s always the selfless guy in the room, doing things for other people. It’s pretty evident playing with him.”
Orpik also took a moment to note that Backstrom’s influence extends beyond his teammates on the ice.
“It’s tough to really find anything negative to say about Nicky, to be honest with you,” Orpik said. “Whether it’s teammates, or trainers, or anyone you come across, he sets a good example for everybody.”
Headline photo: @Capitals
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