Nicklas Bäckström spoke at a press conference held in Stockholm earlier this week and shared his thoughts about the possibility of becoming an Olympic athlete for Team Sweden at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“I hope and believe it will happen (NHL players in the Olympics). It’s all very special,” Bäckström said according to Aftonbladet after being part of Tre Kronor’s Olympic preparatory gathering. “It would be weird if they took the Olympics away from hockey players. It’s a fun tournament and a memory for life.”
Bäckström made his Olympic debut at the 2010 games in Vancouver and recorded six points in four games. Tre Kronor were eliminated by Zdeno Chara and Team Slovakia in the quarter-finals. Four years later, Bäckström had four assists in five games, helping his country reach the gold medal game. Tre Kronor ultimately lost the game to Team Canada. And for Nicklas Bäckström personally, that gold medal game was a disaster.
Bäckström failed a drug test after having used a non-prescription allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine, a substance allowed by the NHL but is illegal according to the IOC and WADA. The Swedish center was banned from the gold medal game and in the aftermath, WADA appealed the IOC’s decision to award Backy a silver medal. The process took almost a year and in January 2015, Bäckström, IIHF, WADA, and the IOC came to an agreement. Nicklas got his silver medal and was cleared of suspicions of trying to enhance his performance.
“I’m hungry for revenge. What happened was really unfortunate. Before all that, I had a lot of fun at the Olympics. You play games and between them and the practices, you hang with other athletes and talk. An amazing experience I’d like to have again”, Bäckström said. “Sweden, as a team, is really good at coming together as a group and a team. We’re better than other teams in that regard. Canada will always be favorites [to win gold], but that means we’re underdogs. It fits us perfect.”
When asked about the Capitals’ performance last season, Nicklas didn’t seem all that pleased.
“It was a special season and we as a team can’t be happy with being eliminated in the first round. But it was a weird season with a lot of COVID cases and players coming and going in the team. But that was the case for a lot of teams and to conclude, we can’t be happy with what we did.”
Being one of the core leaders of the Capitals team that’s soon about to get prepared for a normal, 82-game season, Nicklas knows what they need to change.
“The evenness through the lineup, especially in the playoffs,” Backstrom said. “We saw a good team, Boston, but we didn’t ‘click’ in any of the games. We need to be more consistant and get that feeling we had in 2018 when we became a team. And of course a bit of luck as well.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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