Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was in good spirits on Saturday as he spoke to the media about his hip injury.
Backstrom missed the start of training camp, and the Capitals listed him as week-to-week. He said that he ultimately wants to take his time as he continues rehabilitation.
“It’s getting better and better. I think we are not rushing here,” Backstrom said. “We are looking at it long-term, not short-term. Making sure it is ready before I start skating.”
The 33-year-old center said that surgery isn’t an option after having it six years ago. He believes that the lingering injury may be a “little bit connected” with the same hip problem that was bothering him in 2015.
“I think what happened is just over time, over the years, it’s been grinding it a little bit, and I just think that that happens and when that happens, you just kind of have to reset and build it up again,” Backstrom said. “That is where we are at and takes longer than you hope, but that is just progress. Just part of building it up again and making it strong again.”
Backstrom added that last year’s schedule wasn’t ideal and that the hip started wearing down as the season progressed. He said he was on the ice a little bit in the offseason, but hasn’t been skating at full strength since last year. He’s been rehabilitating offsite and with the team, and that rehabilitation has been good.
“I think we focused a lot on strengthening again… mobility and making sure it starts to feel good again,” Backstrom said. “That is where we are at and I mean, even if it is not a high load of workouts. It is getting better every day, which is a good thing.”
He still considers himself week-to-week but didn’t rule out the Oct. 13 season opener vs. the Rangers.
“I have no timetable here. We’re just going to listen to the body and go slow,” Backstrom noted. “We’ll see what happens. Hopefully, I’ll be back skating soon.
“I haven’t been on the ice yet, so we will see… I want to be out there with the guys, but at the same time, I want to feel good again and be the best I can when I start, so we will see.”
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Right now, the Swedish pivot said he’s focused mainly on returning to NHL action, and that the priority remains with Washington before thinking forward to the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Ultimately, he said that he has faith in the team going forward, and having guys like Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre ready to fill in is “great to see.”
“It’s good for us, it’s all about depth in this league, I think, when you have guys like that who can step up and fill that role,” Backstrom added.
“That’s great to see. I watched a little bit of the preseason games and they both looked great. They’re very mature for their age, how they play and very responsible. It’s good for us. It’s all about depth in this league, I think when you have guys like that who can step up and fill that role.”
Backstrom doesn’t have a specific date in mind for getting back on the ice. Ultimately though, returning to game action will take time. Head coach Peter Laviolette is aware of that and believes the team has the right mindset when it comes to filling his void.
“There’s a process that goes with it. And so you know, we’re still not there yet,” Laviolette said of Backstrom. “I want to see us go in there and compete hard. You know, we got some players and there’s an opportunity [for] guys to show what they can do. So again, it’s a chance for us to evaluate our team.”
In 55 games last season, Backstrom led the Capitals in scoring with 53 points.