The Washington Capitals cannot replace Nicklas Backstrom. But with most of the season still ahead of them, the best the team can do is try to move on.
TJ Oshie and Tom Wilson will split alternate captain duties in Backstrom’s absence, head coach Spencer Carbery said Thursday, joining defenseman John Carlson. Backstrom has worn the “A” since the 2010-11 season.
Citing his ongoing injury situation, Backstrom announced Wednesday that he would step away from the ice indefinitely — nearly six weeks after saying that his surgically-repaired hip felt “100%” after he underwent a procedure that left him with an uncertain hockey future.
“Now, like I told our group, we’re gonna need more from everybody in a lot of different departments,” Carbery said Wednesday. “Leadership is one of them … there’s a ton of different things where we’re gonna need different individuals to pick up the slack. It just goes down the line of trying to fill that void. We all have a hand in that — players, coaches, staff, management — and we’re all gonna need to do a little bit more.”
Both Wilson and Oshie wore the “A” at times when Backstrom missed 35 games during the 2021-22 season. Oshie was also an alternate captain for a handful of games last season, when Backstrom and John Carlson each missed more than half of the season.
“It’s gonna take everyone leadership-wise to try to make up for not having 19 in there,” Oshie said Wednesday. “He’s a calming voice in the locker room and on the bench. I think I’ve learned a lot from him by not getting so emotional and so up and so down, he’s very good at that. We’ll miss that.”