Alex Ovechkin, a potential unrestricted free agent in 2021, was very interested in the progress of Nicklas Backstrom’s contract negotiations with the Washington Capitals during the season and for obvious reasons. The two close friends have had a historic amount of success together in the NHL and would like to finish their NHL careers together. “Nicky and I would love to stay,” Ovechkin said during the preseason.
According to Backstrom, Ovechkin was persistent in getting inside information and updates from the Swedish center on things were going. Backstrom represented himself during the negotiations.
“Ovi came up to me every day since me and Mac started talking and asked me, ‘How’s it going? Any progress? Any progress?'” Backstrom said during a press conference at Capital One Arena to announce his signing. “It’s been like that every day.”
The Capitals and Backstrom officially came to an agreement on Friday before announcing the contract Tuesday morning. Backstrom told his longtime teammate and captain about the deal on Monday – the same day the two participated in the Wish Upon A Par charity event.
“[Ovi] came up and gave me a big hug. That was very nice of him,” Backstrom said. “He’s been interested in what’s going on… He was happy and I’m happy about this.”
Nicklas Backstrom told Alex Ovechkin about the new contract Monday. "He came up and gave me a big hug. That was very nice of him. He's been interested in what's going on. He's been asking me almost every day. He was happy and I'm happy about this."
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 14, 2020
If that sounds at all familiar, it should: it’s the exact same persistence that Ovechkin showed to get Backstrom to join him in Russia during the 2012-13 NHL lockout. Backstrom signed a one-year deal with Dynamo Moscow and played alongside Ovechkin. But, in this case, it took some convincing.
“Ovechkin’s been calling since he came to Moscow,” Backstrom told SVT Sport. “It’ll be fun. I’m leaving today.”
Ovi asking Backstrom everyday about his contract; the more things change, the more they stay the same pic.twitter.com/hgqDodnhzm
— HockeyKot (@hockeykot) January 14, 2020
Like Michal Pivonka and Peter Bondra before them, Ovechkin and Backstrom are irrevocably linked forever. The two have won a Stanley Cup together and Backstrom has assisted on 255 of Ovechkin’s 686 goals (37.2 percent). Only three players in NHL history have set up a teammate more: Wayne Gretzky (364; Jari Kurri), Bryan Trottier (310; Mike Bossy) and Henrik Sedin (280; Daniel Sedin).
To announce Backstrom’s five-year extension, the Capitals posted a video which featured a tribute to the 2006 NHL Draft. In it, Ovechkin can be seen wearing a Capitals jersey with a shirt collar underneath to herald Backstrom’s re-signing, in direct parallel to the moment when he announced that Backstrom would be the fourth overall pick.
During the press conference, Backstrom’s friendship with Ovechkin and the future of the two players, and if it will remain linked, was a consistent topic.
“We had our fun. We were single,” Backstrom said of the early part of their careers together. “Then we took the next step and we’re actually winning and have families. We don’t hang out as much off the ice – just on the road. That’s part of life, I think. We’re always going to have the same friendship as we had since the first time we saw each other.
NB19 on Ovi: "We had our fun. We were single… Then we're actually winning and have families. We don't hang out as much off the ice – just on the road. That's part of life, I think. We're always going to have the same friendship as we had since the first time we saw each other."
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 14, 2020
Headline photo: NBC Sports Washington
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