Arlington, VA – In a surprising move, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has decided to take a leave of absence from the team due to an “ongoing injury situation” with his artificial left hip. This announcement comes after a slow start to the season for Backstrom.
“I have made the difficult decision to step away from the game for a while. I believe it is the right move for my overall health at this time,” Backstrom stated in a release by the Capitals on Wednesday.
Backstrom went on to say that he needs time to evaluate his next steps and explore different options moving forward.
Backstrom, who holds the record for most assists in Capitals’ history, underwent hip resurfacing surgery in the summer of 2022 to address a longstanding injury. He returned to the team in January and played the rest of the season, assuring everyone that he was fully recovered and ready to go.
However, the 36-year-old Swede has only managed to score one point in eight games this season. The Capitals currently hold a record of 4-3-1 as they prepare to face the New York Islanders on Thursday.
“We fully support Nicklas during this time and will be there for him throughout the process. We know how hard he has worked and how determined he is to regain his full health,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “As an organization, we stand firmly behind him as he takes a leave of absence to evaluate his current health situation.”
Over his NHL career, Backstrom has accumulated 271 goals and 762 assists in 1,105 games, all with the Capitals. He was drafted by Washington in the first round of the 2006 NHL Draft and formed a formidable duo with Alex Ovechkin, helping the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018.
First-year coach Spencer Carbery expressed his sadness at watching Backstrom deliver the news to the team.
“You can see how much he wants to continue playing and be there for his teammates, but his physical condition won’t allow it right now,” Carbery said. “It’s a difficult moment when you witness someone like him explaining this to his brothers.”
Backstrom is only the second NHL player to have undergone hip resurfacing surgery, with winger Patrick Kane currently attempting to become the third.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson expressed his support for Backstrom, saying, “We are fully behind him and will support whatever decision he makes for his happiness and well-being.”
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