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Backstrom ‘Doing Well;’ MacLellan Expects Him At Training Camp



Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Friday, March 26, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

A franchise icon is working his way back to the Washington Capitals — but he still has quite a ways to go.

Nicklas Backstrom, still progressing from hip resurfacing surgery last June, is making steady progress in his return to the ice, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said Thursday.

“From last I heard he’s doing well,” MacLellan said. “He’s looking forward to having a good offseason, so I expect to see him at training camp. We’ll get a better sense then.”

Backstrom, 35, has been a stalwart at center since the team drafted him in 2006, but his injury struggles has limited his production and playing time. He played 47 games in the 2021-22 season before having the surgery, ultimately working his way back to play 39 games last season.

According to Backstrom, his hip struggles were affecting his overall way of life, making it hard to even put on his socks.

“I couldn’t bend my left leg, I could barely bend over,” Backstrom told ESPN earlier this year. “It ached all the time, especially after games.”

Only twice has an active NHL player undergone the surgery, according to ESPN. Ed Jovanovski played 36 games after undergoing the surgery in 2013 before being bought-out by the Panthers and retiring, while Ryan Kesler never returned to the ice after having the procedure done at age 34.

“That’s a major surgery,” MacLellan said on Breakdown Day in May. “How much better does it get? I haven’t seen any other players do it, recover and get back to the level they thought they were at before. I don’t know where that ends up with the offseason training. He’s going to have to make a decision on his career, where he thinks he’s at.”

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.