Over the years, Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom had been dealing with ongoing hip issues and complications, and it got to the point where it affected him both on and off the ice.
In an interview with Magnus Nyström for expressen.se, Backstrom opened up about his struggles with his hip, saying that the pain was debilitating to the point where he struggled with daily life.
“It was difficult to describe the feeling… I had difficulty walking. [It was] hard to put on my socks and tie my shoes,” Backstrom told Nyström. “I couldn’t even play with the kids. It’s no fun walking around in pain… even skating has been a little easier than walking.”
The 34-year-old originally underwent hip surgery back in 2015, but had been dealing with chronic hip pain for years. He’d missed the start of the 2021-22 campaign to continue rehabilitating the injury and, after skating on his own and getting some drills in, he returned for 47 games, dishing six goals and 25 assists. However, despite six points in six playoff games, his hip started to grind down again during the postseason, leading him to consider other options and admit that the hip was never going to be at 100 percent going forward.
“It wasn’t a good attempt. I missed the mobility; it hurt when I pushed, and I lost both speed and balance,” Backstrom said to Nyström.
Following a lengthy decision-making process, Backstrom chose to undergo hip resurfacing surgery in June. The procedure leads to a better quality of life but has ended the sports careers of quite a few athletes, including Ryan Kesler. He has a lengthy rehabilitation and recovery ahead of him, and there’s no timetable on if — or when — he will return. However, he said since the procedure, he is feeling much better and can function. He also got married this summer and feels he has been able to play with his kids and live life to the fullest again.
As for hockey, he isn’t ready to give up and doesn’t want to think about having to hang up the skates, and he’ll see how the surgery holds up down the road.
“It is absolutely incredible what you can do. I am optimistic for the first time in many years,” Backstrom told Nyström.
Backstrom has three years left on the extension he signed at the end of 2018 and carries an AAV of $9.25 million. He remains on the long-term injured reserve for the Capitals. However, general manager Brian MacLellan said this summer that the Swede plans to return at some point.
Through 1,058 NHL game with Washington, Backstrom has racked up 1,011 points, good for second among all franchise players. He is also the Capitals all-time leader in assists (747).
The full interview can be found here.