ARLINGTON, V.A. — Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom is back on the ice, as the 35-year-old is officially out of COVID-19 protocol and back to practicing with the team as he nears a return to play.
Backstrom entered COVID protocol back on Wednesday and missed a few days of practice. Assistant coach Scott Allen also went on protocol to close out 2022 and was not available for Washington's final two games of the year due to the coronavirus.
"It whacked them just a little bit," Laviolette said, but noted that they had better days as time passed.
Backstrom has been silencing critics and making headlines as he continues his comeback from hip resurfacing surgery he underwent in June. No. 19 had dealt with years of chronic hip pain following a surgery in 2015. He had tried to play through it and exhausted all other options before undergoing the experimental procedure that has ended the careers of some NHLers, including Ed Jovanovski and Ryan Kesler, before having the procedure over the offseason in June.
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For the first time in years, Backstrom says he is pain free and able to go about his daily life with ease. And on the ice, he's feeling good and able to skate without his hip grinding down.
"I came back and it felt good for a couple games, but then it started doing the same thing," Backstrom said. "I don't know. After a couple years, what I've gone through this past year… mentally, it's tough to just live that way… I think I tried everything else to make it better. But at the same time, this kind of like, the last resort: unproven technology for sports. I just think that's the biggest thing, but I had to do it because I had no other choice. It's either that, or I'll skate on one leg again. Something had to change.
"It was a life-changer for me in daily life," Backstrom said. "Just to pick up socks, tie my shoes, stuff like that, and play with my kids. I couldn't really do that, either. It helped me a lot functionally, and I'm happy about that. That part, I'm feeling great. Now it's just the next step to get me back to the ice."
Backstrom is not the only Capitals star working toward a comeback. Tom Wilson is getting closer to returning for Washington following offseason ACL surgery, and T.J. Oshie has also been taking part in contact drills.