By Chris Cerullo and Magnus Cadelin
Nicklas Backstrom is bullish on his future after a whirlwind offseason saw him marry his longtime partner, Liza Berg, and undergo hip resurfacing surgery.
The hip operation was a success and, in a lengthy Swedish-language interview with Expressen’s Magnus Nyström, Backstrom revealed how bad he felt before and just how good he is feeling now.
“I had a common hip surgery eight years ago and then it felt good for a few years,” Backstrom said to Expressen and translated into English by RMNB’s Magnus Cadelin. “But since then it’s only gotten worse. I’ve had problems for years. It’s hard to describe, it kind of stings. I’ve had trouble walking. It was hard to put on socks and tie my shoes. It’s been kind of messy and frustrating – to say it nicely. It’s not been fun fighting through the pain. I’ve limped to the rink and it’s actually been easier to skate than walk. My family took the hit. I couldn’t even play with my kids. It’s been very tough.”
Nyström reports that the Capitals’ legendary center underwent the surgery in Belgium and stayed there for a week. Since then he has been doing rehab training and build-up training with his personal trainer in Stockholm, Sweden.
“My cap ball had unevenness which caused pain,” Backstrom said. “Now the cap ball is cut in half and I have like a metal coat around it. It protects it in the slot. I feel really good right now. We’ll see how it is when games get more intense this winter. It’s really amazing, the things they’re [the doctors] are able to do. I’m optimistic for the first time in years.”
Backstrom’s hip surgery has incredibly mixed results in the world of professional sports. The average age of someone getting a similar type of procedure done is 51.
Backstrom was asked if he felt like an old man with the injury.
“Yeah, a bit,” Backstrom said. “I haven’t been myself, sadly. But now I’m better. I can put my socks on again (laughs). Honestly, it’s all better now. I’m really positive and pumped. Hockey’s my life and I can’t even imagine it being over one day.”
The Capitals did not stay idle when it comes to trying to fill the giant hole an extended Backstrom absence would bring to their lineup. Although they do expect him back sometime this season, they added center Dylan Strome as a top-six option in the meantime.
The 47 games Backstrom got into last season were the fewest he has played in one year since a concussion kept him out 42 games during the 2011-12 season. Backstrom has three more seasons remaining on the five-year, $46 million deal he signed with the Caps in January of 2020. The contract will take him to the end of his age-37 season.
“If I feel well, I will continue playing for several years,” Backstrom said. “I will play hockey until my body really gives up. I still think it’s just as fun. Or actually, when you get older, you appreciate this even more.”
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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