Unlike his longtime running mate Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom will be without his family in Washington DC during training camp.
Backstrom, in a Zoom call after the Capitals’ first day of Phase 3 Training Camp, revealed to reporters that his family opted to stay at their summer home in Galve, Sweden.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 13, 2020
The Swedish center arrived home on June 25 after taking a flight with former Capitals teammate Andre Burakovsky.
“I think we decided pretty early that I was going to go over by myself,” Backstrom said. “We liked our setup better for my fiancee and kids to stay back in Sweden there. It was almost not really a big, long conversation. Obviously, we love hockey and we want it back. If we can do it now, if we’re all very strict about this I think we can make it happen. We all want sports back and we want to do what we love.”
Backstrom is the father of three children: six-year-old Haley, three-year-old Vince, and three-month-old Alizee who was born in late March. Nicky is especially close to Vince who has fallen in love with hockey just like dad.
“I think that’s obviously the toughest thing to be away from your family but at the same time, it’s not normal circumstances right now,” Backstrom said. “We’re just lucky we can play hockey again. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit.”
The Backstroms’ decision comes as the United States is becoming overwhelmed by the coronavirus. The country never escaped a first wave of COVID-19 highlighted by reopening too early and the politicization of masks. The US is now seeing around 60k positive cases per day — nearly double the number of cases in March when the country first shut down — while Florida is considered the epicenter of the world sporting over 15k positive cases alone on Sunday. In contrast, Backstrom’s home county of Sweden is flattening its curve, reporting only 174 cases on Monday.
After the Capitals complete its two-week camp, the team will travel together as a group to Toronto where they will stay in the same hotel as the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I think the bubble is probably is going to be a good setup for us in Toronto,” Backstrom said. “They’re going to have restaurants and stuff like that for us in Toronto. So we’re going to happy about that when we’re out there.”
Backstrom believes that the team’s closeness and familiarity with each other could give them an edge in the playoffs.
“You gotta have a good start. You have to be clicking right away or otherwise, it’s over pretty quick,” Backstrom said. “Hopefully, it will work to our advantage that we’ve been playing with each other for a long time for a majority of this group and come back like we were in the regular season.”
If the Capitals do reach the Eastern Conference Final, Backstrom will have the opportunity to be reunited with his family, if they so choose, in his hotel room in Edmonton. The NHL’s Phase 4 protocol mandates that players only have to be away from their families for, at the most, five weeks.
Backstrom’s main goal, however, is to win his second Stanley Cup. The forever Capital, who signed a five-year extension in January, is 32 now and running out of opportunities.
“I think that’s what drives you. We’re playing for a championship here,” Backstrom said. “A little different circumstances, but at the same time, we’re playing for the same thing. Whatever team prepares themselves the best, that team is going to win. We have a pretty short time here at camp to get ready. You’re looking at like we have a good team and we can surprise a lot of people. Obviously, there’s a lot of good teams out there but we’re definitely one of them.”
Screenshot courtesy of @Capitals
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