By Ian Oland
At the start of Training Camp, the Washington Capitals announced that Nicklas Backstrom would be out week-to-week due to a lingering hip injury. Since then, Backstrom, beyond an absolutely perfect TV commercial, has been completely away from cameras rehabbing.
This week officially marks a month since Backstrom was announced out and judging by recent comments made by Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette, it’s unclear when the Super Swede will return.
“He’s at the beginning of the process,” Laviolette said on Monday. “I don’t have the exact details. I can’t tell you the plan yet, because they’re working through it. But he’s at the beginning. We’re going to make sure his chances of coming back are successful. That he feels good, that he’s worked hard through this time, and is in good shape. Eventually, you’ll see him out on the ice with us and we’ll go through that process, but he won’t be with our team [against the Avalanche].”
When asked if Backstrom was still skating, Laviolette replied, “I believe he was on today.”
The franchise’s all-time assists leader was officially placed on the NHL’s long-term injured reserve list on October 12, meaning he must miss at least 10 games and 24 days of NHL action. The first game Backstrom would be eligible to return is a Saturday, November 6 home tilt against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Backstrom has only addressed his injury only once – during an October 2 chat with the media. While he was unsure at that point if he’d play opening night (he didn’t), he suggested that his return would be more about his hip being able to withstand the long-term rigors of an NHL season than rush back.
“It’s getting better and better,” Backstrom said of his hip. “We’re not rushing it here, we’re looking at it long term, not short term to make sure it’s ready before I start skating. It’s just been beaten up, was a good time now to really be patient with it and make sure I feel good before I step on the ice. Progress is going good, feeling better. Hopefully, I can be on the ice soon.”
Backstrom led the Capitals in scoring last season with 53 points in 55 games but was noticeably slowed by a lower-body injury in the spring. The longtime alternate captain missed a game due to injury and recorded only one point in the Capitals’ first round series against the Boston Bruins.
“Over time, over years it’s been grinding at it a little bit,” Backstrom said of his hip. “So when that happens, you have to kind of reset and make sure you build it up again. That’s where we’re at. Takes a little longer than you hope but that’s just progress, that’s just part of building it up again and making it strong again. To be honest, the schedule wasn’t great last year. Even if it was a short couple months, lot of games. Hopefully, it will be better this year when I’ve been building it up and we go from there. That’s the plan.”
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk/RMNB
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