An offseason arthroscopic hip surgery in late May has put the top-line center’s status for opening night in jeopardy, and he was clear on Friday that he’s not interested in rushing his recovery. He said he’s not sure when he’ll return.
“It could be opening night, I could miss five games, ten games, I don’t know,” Backstrom said. “It’s all about how I’m doing, I think.”
Boredom from skating alone before training camp and getting to skip a couple intense ice sessions is a by-product of his approach. He didn’t miss a game last season, finishing with a league-leading 60 assists, and he had 78 points in the regular season, which ranked sixth in the NHL. He also ranked first on the team with 1.96 points per 60 minutes.
Coach Barry Trotz has said that he didn’t expect Backstrom to play during the preseason, and Backstrom has been clear that he doesn’t want to return before he’s completely healthy. He recently conducted a simulated skate test with strength coach Mark Nemish, an important step forward as mobility and strength in his hip return.
He started skating earlier this month, and he said regaining the strength in his legs is the latest hurdle. He said the biggest thing is to not feel sore the day after a skate.
“I mean, I can’t really tell you a date, but I’m feeling good with no setbacks, so that’s a good sign,” Backstrom said. “I’m trying to skate harder and harder now. It’s just getting the legs going again.”