WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 20: Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with his teammates after scoring a game against the Nashville Predators during the first period at Verizon Center on December 20, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
[Recently Caps centerman Nicklas Backstrom spoke with Swedish outlet Gefle Dagblad about his recovery from the concussion that has sidelined him since January 3. A translation of the resulting article appears below, courtesy of our good friend Malin.]
"I don’t know when I will be able to play again, but I hope I will be ready for the playoffs."
It was in the game against Calgary on January 3 that Rene Bourque delivered an elbow to the head of Nicklas Bäckström. The elbowing happened in the neutral zone.
"It was an unnecessary hit. I feel like he could have just skated by me instead."
Bourque was suspended five games for that cowardly cheap shot. Since then Bourque has changed teams and he is now playing for the Montreal Canadiens where he is free to play without any restraints or problems.
Bäckström himself on the other hand has yet to play in a single game since he got hurt. He has now missed 15 games and it is still unclear when he will be able to return to the ice.
"I’m getting better, but it takes time," he says.
Bäckis played a couple of shifts after the hit but was then forced to leave the game early. At first the team called it "precautionary action."
"I had migraine symptoms, and since I have had problems with migraines in the past, we thought at first that it could be something like that. But after a few days I felt that I wasn’t 100% fine."
Bäckström took part in a practice a few days after the Calgary game, but he experienced a setback immediately.
"I didn’t feel well, that's the plain and simple description for it. Otherwise I would have just continued to play."
After that, Washington's medical staff decided to stop him from playing hockey for the time being. His orders now are total rest. Bäckis is being kept under close observation. They take no risks with these types of head injuries.
"Two weeks ago I tried to get on the ice for a practice, but I got off after three minutes. It didn’t work. I just wasn’t ready."
How have you dealt with this time away from hockey?
"It’s tough, for sure. I don’t do much, basically I have spent much of my time on the couch napping and resting. Sometimes I've been at the practice rink, but I try to stay away from it as much as possible. It's so frustrating for me to be there right now."
Bäckis is trying to be positive about the situation.
"I have played four full seasons over here without getting hit like this before. I think I have missed just five games in those years, that’s not too bad. So, I have been lucky and now I was out of luck, that’s the way I look at it."
With Nicklas on the shelf the Capitals are fighting to reach the playoffs. It is a extremely tight race in the Eastern conference, and the team currently sits in third place in the East. They lead the Southeast division with just one point ahead of Florida.
"I follow the games of course, and this season it's been a bit up and down."
On Saturday the Washington Capitals are heading to New York to meet the New York Rangers, and it is also time for this season's father's trip when the players' fathers get to spend some time with their sons. Nicklas's father Anders is in town and he is ready to go on the trip with his son.
"Yes, I will probably go on that trip with the team. I’m really excited about it."
When he can play again remains to be seen.
"It’s a process and it must take the time it takes," says Nicklas.