This season, Backstrom didn’t miss a game for the sixth time in his career, leading the NHL with 60 assists, finishing among the league’s top five with 78 points and ranking first on the Capitals with 1.96 points per 60 minutes at even strength. He notched eight points during Washington’s run into the second round of the playoffs, including the overtime winner in Game 4 of the first round, but six of those came in a three-game span against the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. In the semifinals against the New York Rangers, Backstrom had an assist in Games 1 and 7, but nothing else.
Asked at his exit interview whether he was banged-up during the postseason, Backstrom said no.
Word of this operation first surfaced on Instagram, where user @ccassaday85 posted a photo of himself and Backstrom playing golf Tuesday at Congressional. In the comments for the photo, Cassady wrote that Backstrom said he was having hip surgery soon. That turned out to be the next day. (The existence of said picture was first noted here.)
Backstrom’s agent has not returned an email and telephone call requesting comment. The Capitals did not reveal which hip was repaired, or where the surgery was performed, or which doctor performed the surgery, declining to expand beyond the statement. A more precise timetable for Backstrom’s recovery is expected once he begins rehabilitation in several weeks.
This likely depends on what specific procedure was performed during the arthroscopy, which allows surgeons to look inside the hip through a camera and treat the affected area. According to Dr. Derek Ochiai, an orthopaedic surgeon in Arlington who performed over 250 hip arthroscopic procedures last calendar year, a significant majority of such surgeries treat labral tears and carry recovery times of roughly three months. A 2009 study of 28 hockey players found “the average time to return to skating/hockey drills was 3.4 months.”
This would put Backstrom back on the ice sometime during the preseason in September, but doesn’t necessarily mean he will be at full strength by then. Ochiai said it sometimes takes athletes 9-12 months to reach that point, but said he’d be surprised if Backstrom wasn’t “looking like nothing happened” by the middle of next regular season.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean his hip will be perfect,” Ochiai said Thursday, speaking via telephone, referring to whenever the Capitals open their 2015-16 schedule. “But it should be good enough to play.”