For the last 15 years, one of the NHL’s most famous “bromances” has changed the Washington Capitals for the better.
Their bond has not only helped turn D.C. into a hockey town but has also fueled their successful careers.
“[Our friendship means a lot]. He meant a lot for me, especially the first couple years,” Backstrom said of his captain in 2018. “He took me under his wing. Then when we got older, I took him under my wing… there’s never a boring day around that guy.”
Since Backstrom entered the league in 2007-08, the two have combined for 2,102 points. They both emerged as leaders in the dressing room and helped establish a lasting winning culture over time, with the team reaching the postseason for all but one season that they’ve been on the roster.
“We start together to build this relationship, build this chemistry,” Ovechkin explained in March. “I think we enjoy to play together… we have fun and it’s hard to stop [us] especially when Nicky have the puck and he’s flying out there. It’s fun to watch, I just have to be open all the time and try to put the puck in. It’s fun to play with him, he’s one of the best.”
The dynamic duo also helped the Capitals secure their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018, sharing an emotional hug as they celebrated their victory. Ovechkin then passed the Cup off first to Backstrom and then hoisted it with him. Both cherished sharing that moment, especially as Backstrom raised the 34-pound trophy with a very broken finger.
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) June 8, 2018
What’s even more impressive is that the two continue to produce at an impressive rate over time. Over the last three seasons, No. 8 and No. 19 combined for a GF% of 52.60 at even strength. In 2020-21, the two registered a GF% of 57.69 and HDGF% of 63.64 at 5-on-5. Backstrom also led the team with 53 points in 55 games, while Ovechkin finished first with 24 goals in 45 appearances.
“They both great franchise players for Washington Capitals and everybody respect them in the locker room,” Dmitry Orlov told me. “They superstars in the league, so everybody try and learn from them.”
"F**king rights." Nicklas Backstrom takes the Stanley Cup from Alexander Ovechkin and they go for a skate. pic.twitter.com/Qp8G74QDbC
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 8, 2018
Ovechkin is set to become a UFA on July 27, but he and Washington are expected to reach a deal following the expansion draft. Ovi wants to finish his career in D.C., and Backstrom is signed with the Capitals through 2024-25.
As the two continue their journey, they root for each other as they pursue more milestones and another Cup ring. Backstrom just hit 1,000 games and is just 20 points away from the 1,000-point mark. Ovechkin, meanwhile, is one goal away from tying Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time goals list. He’s 165 tallies from passing Wayne Gretzky‘s record.
“We’ve seen him do it year after year. It’s just so impressive,” Backstrom said of Ovi’s production. “I think the way he shoots the puck, the way he scores, the way he plays the game is just fun to see. As a teammate, you’re just enjoying every moment.”