By Ian Oland
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom wants to go the same route as teammate Alex Ovechkin and end his playing career with the team that initially put him on the map.
In a Swedish language interview with Daniel Sandström of the Gefle Dagblad, Backstrom revealed that he’d like to play with Brynäs IF of the SHL before hanging up his skates for good.
“I’ve always dreamt about finshing my career in Brynäs,” Backstrom said to Sandström as translated by RMNB’s Magnus Cadelin. “That being said, I can’t just fly over here and sign a contract. I want to compete and be able to play. But at some point we’re coming home.”
He added that “my body has to be able to do it.”
In the same interview, Backstrom confirmed that he was playing through a hip injury at the end of the 2021 season which he’s still healing from.
Backstrom, who signed a five-year, $46 million extension in January 2020, is currently scheduled to play with the Capitals through 2025 until he’s 37-years-old. It’s assumed it’s his final contract in the NHL.
Backstrom, including his teenage junior years, spent six seasons with Brynäs before beginning his NHL career with the Capitals during the 2007-08 campaign. Backstrom played parts of three seasons with Brynäs’ senior team in the Elitserien from 2005 to 2007. During his final Swedish season, a 19-year-old Backstrom posted 40 points (12g, 28a) in 45 games, which was considered incredible production considering how advanced and how veteran-laden the league was.
Backstrom, who has the most assists (722) and the second-most points (980) in Capitals’ franchise history, said he and his family will return home to their Gävle mansion after his NHL career is over – though it’s still undecided when.
“The idea is to come home someday,” Backstrom said. “We will. But of course, our kids are English speaking, can’t always find the words in Swedish right away when we get back to Sweden. They ask, ‘What’s this in Swedish?’ and so on. But they always long for grandma and grandpa, they’ve really looked forward to us coming here.”
Backstrom said both he and his wife Liza speak Swedish at home and the experience has caused their children to become bilingual.
“They speak English with all their friends at school and kindergarden all day long,” Backstrom said. “We’ve been thinking about schools here in Gävle.
“My oldest, Haley, is eight so she’ll be pretty grown up when in four years. And Vince is five and has one year left in preschool. Alizee is just one and just started walking.”
Alex Ovechkin, who is currently negotiating a new deal with the Capitals, said while at home in Russia before the 2020-21 season that he wanted to retire with Dynamo Moscow, the KHL team he played with before being drafted into the NHL. Ovechkin also serves as an advisor to the team.
“I have a certain goal I am trying to achieve after my career ends, but it is not over yet,” Ovechkin said then. “I am still at the top of my game. I think I will continue playing for at least a few more years, and, of course, I hope my health is good, I would like to finish it here, with Dynamo Moscow.”
Back home, Backstrom has a company called NickBack Invest AB and gives out a yearly scholarship to kids. While he’s become a worldwide star and spent most of his adult life in Washington, Backstrom’s heart remains in Sweden.
“This is my home turf,” Backstrom said.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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