By Ian Oland and Magnus Cadelin
Every summer, Nicklas Backstrom hands out scholarships, the “Bäckis-stipendiet”, to two young sports stars at his hometown rink in Valbo, Sweden, named NickBack Arena.
On June 10, the Capitals’ star did so again and took questions from Gefle Dagblad’s Daniel Sandström where he spoke extensively in Swedish about his injured hip. Eight days after the interview was published, the Capitals announced that Backstrom went under the knife in Belgium to have a form of hip replacement surgery. The Capitals did not provide a timeline on Backstrom’s return only to say it would be lengthy.
“I want to quit on my own terms and not be forced to quit because of injuries,” Backstrom said then to Gefle Dagblad and translated by RMNB’s Magnus Cadelin. “We’re looking for a solution at the moment and I’m just looking ahead.”
Last year during the scholarship presentation, Backstrom said that he underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip in June 2015 and that he had “been in pain since sometime in November (2014).” Backstrom admitted that training since then was more difficult, adding that he could no longer do what he did in his 20’s: two workouts a day and play tennis inbetween.
“I had surgery many years ago, but I won’t do that kind of surgery again,” Backstrom said two weeks ago. “There’s a few things we will try. Or just take a chance and play on. We’ll see what happens.
“I really hope it will get sorted. I’m looking brightly on my future. These problems aren’t something that just popped up now, I’ve had them for a long time.”
Sandström asked Backstrom if he ever thought about quitting.
“No, but there’s been a lot of tough days when I’ve been feeling down,” Backstrom said. “But at the same time, I’m bull-headed. It’s mostly family who have seen me down and blue.”
Backstrom missed the first two months of the 2021-22 season due to his ailing hip. The All-Star center returned in December and while Backstrom registered 31 points (6g, 25a) in 47 games, he never quite looked the same as in previous years.
“It felt good when I got back this winter, but when the schedule intensifies it’s a struggle,” Backstrom said when asked if he’s in pain every game. “I’ve had a bad hip for eight years but I’ve been able to play through it so I guess that’s a positive.”
Backstrom optimistically said last year that he would like to end his career at the very place it started: SHL Brynäs. Now, his hip has him less optimistic it’s possible.
“If I’m feeling fine there’s a chance,” Backstrom said. “But I also want to be realistic about it. I don’t want to come home, have pain and not be able to play on the level I want to. We’ll see where we end up.”
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