NHL insider Elliotte Friedman offered his first reporting and opinions on the Nicklas Backstrom situation during Friday’s episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast. Backstrom, earlier in the week, announced that he would be stepping away from the Capitals due to his lingering hip issues, but would not be retiring.
The Sportsnet commentator thinks that behind the scenes the Backstrom situation has been difficult due to the context for both player and team. Friedman said that the organization loves the Swedish center. “He is going to get his number retired in Washington” and will be a “Capital forever,” Friedman said. “He’s going to have a shot at the Hall of Fame. I think you could argue, he’s the second-most important player in Capitals’ history.”
But Friedman also believes the team sees the writing on the wall, but Backstrom may not yet, creating a really difficult situation. “They know how much he cares,” Friedman said. “It’s hard. I think he wants to be Nick Backstrom. It’s not Nick Backstrom anymore.”
Here are Friedman’s comments on the situation as transcribed from the 32 Thoughts Podcast:
Elliotte Friedman: Here’s this guy, he goes and has this operation. Chances are, when you’re in your mid-30s and you do this, the odds are so stacked against you. But Backstrom, you don’t become the player he is without having incredible pride in what you do and incredible belief in what you do. The other thing that happens is: you think about everything you’ve done for the organization, and he has done everything for that organization. Now the challenge becomes, you think that you’ve earned a certain way and a right to be treated. And you start to think, well everything I’ve done, I’m owed this. It’s not selfish. It’s Father Time. Father Time comes for everybody. And Nick Backstrom, he wants to be Nick Backstrom. He wants to be 25-year-old Nick Backstrom, he wants to be 28-year-old Nick Backstrom. Nobody wants to leave the game. The Capitals are looking at this and saying, you know what, ‘you’ve slowed down. We’re a slow team.’ They take him off the first power play. Connor McMichael is playing the wing. They want him to play center.
I bet you Brian MacLellan… Brian MacLellan is paid to make really tough decisions. I bet you he’s sitting there and saying this, ‘You know what, Nick? We really need to make some changes here.’ Ultimately this is Backstrom’s decision, but I think behind the scenes, this has been very hard for both player and organization. Because they know how much he cares. They know how much he wants to play. But they are like, we have to make a change here. And those are the hardest… if people do it willingly, it’s easy. But I think this has been hard.
On one hand, the Capitals are like, ‘we owe everything to this guy.’ But on the other hand, they’re like ‘it might be time.’ Like I think in five years, everybody is going to be fine. But right now in the moment, it is hard. Really hard.
Backstrom officially stepped away from the team on Wednesday after splitting line rushes with Connor McMichael at third line center during Monday’s practice. Backstrom, on the season, has just one assist in eight games. Process wise, he has been outscored 4 to 1 while on the ice at five-on-five and is well under water in shot attempts, scoring chances, high-danger chances, and expected goals percentage.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.