Pageantry? Consideration? Publicity? For Nicklas Backstrom?
It was extraordinarily deserved however felt unusual to see for one of the vital underrated and under-celebrated gamers in NHL historical past relative to his expertise stage. Backstrom obtained a royal introduction to his 1,000th sport from his Washington Capitals teammates, with their sticks raised to create a tunnel as he took the ice, to not point out a silver stick and a pre-game photograph shoot, within the moments earlier than Thursday night time’s sport in opposition to the Buffalo Sabres.
“You’ve received to remain wholesome, and numerous occasions an damage can cease that, so I feel for lots of gamers a sport milestone is a big factor,” Backstrom mentioned earlier this week. “1K, it means rather a lot. It means you’ve been within the league a very long time.”
“It’s the mark of longevity, of doing issues the immediately, of enjoying the sport the correct means,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette advised reporters after Thursday’s sport. “He’s been such a helpful, vital piece of this group for therefore a few years. And to take a minute and honor him for what he’s carried out and what he’s completed I feel is vital.”
The concept of being showered with reward has at all times felt international to Backstrom, who’s most well-known for spending his profession within the shadow of somebody way more well-known: Alex Ovechkin, arguably the best goal-scorer of all-time. Backstrom as soon as summarized why he beloved that association throughout a 2016 interview with The Hockey Information.
“The media, they’re at all times asking me about how ‘Ovie’ will get the headlines, ‘Ovie’ will get the highlight,” Backstrom mentioned on the time. “I’d say, ‘Yeah, it’s good. I prefer it that means. He deserves all of the credit score, too. He’s such a very good goal-scorer, such an important participant for the sport, such a face of the league. I’m not going to be like, ‘Hey, I’m right here.’ That’s the factor. I’m simply going to try to do my job. That’s the way in which it’s been, and that’s the way in which I wish to be.”
However with a profession spanning 1,000 video games and together with a Stanley Cup, it’s tough for Backstrom to cover what he’s completed at this level. It is truthful to marvel if the Corridor of Fame choice committee will acknowledge it sometime, too.
May Backstrom find yourself a Corridor of Famer? If we decide him by the obvious floor standards, he might get missed as he has by awards voters his complete profession. He’s by no means been a first- or second-team all-star. He’s by no means gained a significant particular person award: no Hart Trophy as league MVP, no Artwork Ross because the scoring champ, no Selke Trophy as the very best defensive ahead, regardless of being fringe contenders for every at a number of factors in his profession. However he’s existed on a airplane someplace higher than “excellent” however beneath “generationally nice” from the second he debuted within the NHL, and loads of gamers of that ilk have earned Corridor calls, from Mats Sundin to Marian Hossa.
And Backstrom might sooner or later be acknowledged among the many all-time greatest at what he does greatest: organising others. He’s simply the 23rd participant in NHL historical past to have 700 profession assists by sport 1,000. All 21 Corridor-eligible gamers on that listing have been inducted, and the opposite two, Jaromir Jagr and Sidney Crosby, are Corridor of Fame locks. From 2007-08, Backstrom’s rookie season, to current day, his 715 assists lead all NHLers and are 29 greater than the next-closest participant. The one gamers with extra factors than Backstrom since he entered the league are 4 first-ballot Corridor of Fame abilities: Ovechkin, Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane. Backstrom has led the NHL in assists as soon as and cracked the highest three six occasions.
How can such a formidable resume go comparatively unnoticed? It in all probability, as at all times, harkens to the Ovechkin issue. Whereas Backstrom undoubtedly has made Ovechkin higher, passing the puck to the goal-scoring G.O.A.T. can inflate the help complete. A minimum of, that’s a possible narrative. The reality is that Backstrom can be an important playmaker with or with out Ovie, as evidenced by the actual fact Backstrom has continued producing at near a point-per-game tempo even in current seasons when Evgeny Kuznetsov usurped him as Ovechkin’s common middle.
Of Backstrom’s 715 assists, 292 have come on Ovechkin objectives. In case you threw all these apples out of the barrel, Backstrom would nonetheless have 423 assists, and that might nonetheless be 31st-most within the league since he debuted.
Backstrom, 33, has 4 years left on his contract and continues to publish prolific help totals, sitting 13th within the NHL this season. He’s been extraordinarily sturdy in his profession, enjoying in 94.1 of Washington’s video games since he debuted, so he’s a secure guess to turn out to be the 33rd member of the 800-assist membership. Just one eligible 800-assist participant isn’t within the Corridor of Fame, and Backstrom can get to 900 if he averages 40 assists and alter over the remainder of his contract. He’d be the 20th participant to succeed in that benchmark. So Backstrom can go forward and begin dreaming about getting the Corridor name sometime.