Nicklas Backstrom on life in the KHL, his contract and his unnecessarily controversial #99 sweater.
Nicklas Bäckström spoke with Gefle Dagblad the day after his Dynamo debut, and Malin Andersson provides this translation:
Nicklas Bäckström has had one wish since the lockout started - to get to go home and play for Brynäs.
But Brynäs have been adamant on sticking to their original decision not to sign any short-term contracts with NHL players that are under contract with NHL teams. So after waiting it out, "Bäckis" finally decided to join his friend Alexander Ovechkin in Dynamo Moscow.
"He kept calling and asked me to join him, he kept on bugging me, and eventually he convinced me. Among the things he told me was that Moscow is the best city in the world," says "Bäckis" the day after his first game, a 3-0 victory, against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
When did you make the decision?
"At the beginning of last week. I arrived in Russia on Friday, I did some tests, and on Sunday we went on a road trip. It’s all been happening really fast."
What, besides Ovechkin nagging made you decide to sign with Dynamo now?
"First and foremost because I wanted to play hockey again. And because Brynäs feel the way they feel this was the only real alternative I had. Basically, at the core of it, you want to do what love and what makes you happy. And for me that is to play hockey."
What does your contract situation look like, can you come home and play with Brynäs if the NHL lockout last all season?
"I have signed a contract that is flexible. It’s a contract where everything is possible. So, yes, I can come home and play for Brynäs if the entire NHL season get cancelled."
You still wish to play for Brynäs if you have a chance to do so?
"Yes, that is most definitely what I want."
The negotiations are still ongoing between the NHL and players union.
How much do you know of what is happening with the negotiations, and what do you think will happen?
"At least they are still talking to each other. [Ed. note: for the latest on that, check out this morning's Clips.] I’m hoping that something will have happened by the end of November or the beginning of December. But if nothing has happened by January, I think the whole season will be cancelled."
If that happens Bäckis, will play for Brynäs. Until then, he is working on getting his timing back in the KHL.
What do you have to say about your first game for Dynamo?
"It was a typical game for when you haven't played in a while. I hope I will have improved some in the next game, already. We have our next game on Wednesday against...I think they are called Novogrod."
How have you been keeping in shape up until now?
"Me and a couple of guys from the team had been renting ice time in our normal training facility, Kettler Iceplex. Me, Mike Green, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, Mike Ribeiro. We have tried to keep things up as well as we can, but it’s hard to get any real quality training out of it. You need to play games, there is no way around that."
You did score in your first game.
"Yes, I got a an assist on Ovi’s 2-0 goal, but it really wasn’t anything special with it. A secondary assist, I found a D man and he played the puck to Ovi. It was a typical Ovi goal."
What kind of hockey do they play in the KHL?
"It’s definitely different, but I thought the game was played with a lot of speed. A pretty exciting and offense-oriented type of hockey."
Bäckis played on a line with Alexander Ovechkin and his old friend from Brynäs, Richard Gynge, who scored a goal in the game. Bäckström played with number 99 on his back, but that will change soon.
"The club had already registered me to wear 99 when I got there. I told them right away that I didn’t want to play with that number. [Ed. note: This doesn't exactly jibe with what he's said elsewhere.] It just didn’t feel good, but it was too late to change it with so little notice. I will play two games wearing number 99, after that I’m going to change it. It will be something in the sixties... I honestly don’t recall exactly which number it was."
Right after the first game with his new team was over, Dynamo Moscow boarded a plane to Nizhny Novgorod in the northeast of Russia.
How do you feel about flying over there?
"It was a nice plane, I think it felt fine. But of course, some thoughts did cross my mind when we were on the runway and ready for take off, after what have happened here before."
On Tuesday night Dynamo held a practice, and tonight [Wednesday] it’s time for another game. They don’t have any sightseeing planned.
"No, I think that there maybe isn’t all that much to see here..."
At home in Moscow Bäckis stays at the club's training center [Novogorsk] for now.
"We will see what I will do in the future."