Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom misses the fans, wants ‘to finish the season with a champion’

first_img“You miss obviously playing games, in front of the fans,” Backstrom said on a video call with reporters on Wednesday. “You miss hanging around the boys in the locker room. I think that’s such a big part of why you’re in sports, or in team sports: competing, play for each other, traveling to away games, home games, everything. It’s pretty hard. But at the same time, I think we’re sitting in the same boat here and you get some quality time with your family too and lots of activities. You know it’s gonna get better and we’re all gonna get back to normal life soon.”Whether or not the NHL will get back to work soon is anyone’s guess. Speculation has grown that the NHL may resume over the summer, but whether or not social distancing guidelines will be lifted by then remains unknown.”We’re pretty close to the playoff,” said Backstrom. “You obviously want to finish the season with a champion. That doesn’t change anything. Whether we play mid-summer, you want to do it. You want to have a champion this year if possible, that’s for sure.”MORE: Capitals GM Brian MacLellan on NHL restarting: ‘You’d like to see the [Stanley] Cup awarded’The Capitals were in a prime spot to win their second Stanley Cup in three years. As the veteran forward noted, he liked the team’s chances this year despite its 4-3-3 record in its last 10 games. The Capitals were sitting in first in the Metropolitan Division — one point ahead of the Flyers in the standings — when everything came to a screeching halt back on March 12. “Looking back at it, when we came here that morning, I think we all knew that the game was going to be cancelled,” he noted as the team had their sights set on its fifth consecutive division title. “We were starting to hear about it, the government started shutting down things. We were basically just waiting for the NHL to make an announcement and the NBA had done it before, so we kind of knew it was going to happen.”It was weird. You’re coming in on a game day and trying to get prepared, but at the same time we were like, ‘Is it there going to be a game? What’s going on? Are we going to play with no fans?’ It was just a weird day. And then after that, it was ‘Alright, go home. See you later.’ So, it was kind of awkward back then, but at the same time, now we know why.”MORE: From Burns to Jagr: The top ten haircuts in NHL history The awkwardness may continue.Backstrom, who was skating in his 13th NHL season and had posted 54 points (12 goals, 42 assists) in 61 games, hopes the NHL can come back. If they do, he would prefer a small training camp and at least some exhibition games before jumping into the playoffs — with fans.“It would be really tough to play without the fans because they are everything to us and without fans, the atmosphere they bring, I think it would be really tough,” he said. “Looking at it the either way, if we can get started and get hockey on the television … I’ve been looking around at the TV channels these days and there is absolutely nothing on, just old games, which the first couple days is fun but it gets boring after a while so you want to play and want to get back to work like everyone else but it would be really tough to play without fans.” Life looks a little different right now for Nicklas Backstrom.Under normal circumstances, the Washington Capitals forward would find himself at the rink gearing up for a deep playoff run this time of year. With the COVID-19 pandemic pausing the NHL season, he’s spending more time at home with his newly extended family as his fiancee, Liza, just days ago gave birth to the couple’s third child. last_img read more