Nicklas Backstrom has been named to the 2014 Swedish Olympic team that will compete in Sochi this February. It’s the second Olympic appearance for Washington’s top centerman, who is one of 14 forwards selected to represent Tre Kronor.
“It means a lot. Obviously I have my heart here in Washington but it’s always fun to play for your country,” Backstrom said. “I’m very honored to be on the team and it’s going to be a fun experience.”
Fellow Capitals forward Marcus Johansson did not make the Swedish squad, which is stacked on its top two lines with veterans Daniel Alfredsson (Detroit), Henrik and Daniel Sedin (Vancouver), Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit) and Backstrom. The Swedes return 12 players from the 2010 team that finished fifth in Vancouver, a group that also includes six from the 2006 gold-medal winning squad in Turin.
Still Backstrom hoped his Capitals teammate and countryman would be able to join him in Sochi.
“I think he’s been tremendous this year, he has developed as the player Washington wanted him to be,” Backstrom said. “I wanted to see him in there but it’s not my decision. I feel sorry for him but he’ll be alright, he’s a strong kid.”
Coach Adam Oates said he believes Johansson was “really close” to making the Swedish Olympic team but hopes that the 23-year-old can use his absence as motivation to further improve his game.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it yet because it was just this morning but I would imagine he’s a little bit right on that bubble feeling, a little bit hurt,” Oates said. “It goes to show that you’re considered, which is good, but they want to see something else. That means you’ve got to improve in some category. Let’s figure that out.”