Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson clear ‘mental milestone’ of light skating

Backstrom, Wilson clear ‘mental milestone’ of light skating originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington


ARLINGTON, Va. — The Capitals may be a long way away from seeing Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson play in a game together, but the pair of injured forwards took a positive step on their paths to returning Wednesday when they took the ice for the first time since undergoing their respective offseason surgeries.

Backstrom and Wilson skated for about 10 minutes at MedStar Capitals Iceplex an hour before the team’s scheduled practice. Neither player was dressed in full pads nor did they skate at full speed. They will each take the next few days off before returning to the ice in a few days.

“I was excited to see them out there,” head coach Peter Laviolette said in his daily press conference after practice. “They’re at the beginning steps of getting back on the ice. You won’t see them in gear tomorrow. They’re at the very beginning, but it was great to see them out there. I’m sure that they were thrilled to get out there and touch the ice and touch and touch their edges and move a puck around and it’s awesome.

“It makes me happy that they’re both out there and they’re working down the road to recovery.”

Wilson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the Capitals’ first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers last spring. He underwent surgery to repair the ligament in late May, which put him on track to return for Washington in mid-December at the earliest.

The 28-year-old sat down with NBC Sports Washington’s Alexa Landestoy and talked about how it felt to skate around for the first time in five months.

“It’s going well,” Wilson said of his rehab. “It’s a slow process, one that you kind of want to do right and take your time. But I got to get back out on the ice today for the first time. Nice to get back in the skates. Nice to get back out in one of your happy places and just feel the puck and feel your skates on the ice. That was a good mental milestone for me to do that.”

Backstrom, 34, has a much more uncertain timeline after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery June 17. The procedure is one that has ended the careers of athletes from all different sports, but Backstrom is determined to work his way back and return to the Capitals.

“I’m doing great,” Backstrom told Landestoy in an interview that will air in Thursday’s pregame show. “So far, so good. I’m just happy I can work out normally and following the programs that I’ve been given. So, so far, so good so I got high hopes.”

Just as they did at the rink Wednesday, Backstrom and Wilson have spent a lot of time together as they’ve each worked their way back from significant injuries. Wilson has enjoyed rehabbing alongside his longtime teammate, adding that the veteran center’s work ethic has motivated him in his own process.

“It has been really fun and it’s been great to have him just because he is such another great leader and just to have him beside you during the rehab process, it’s made it a lot more fun coming to the rink,” Wilson said. “You can learn things from him, he’s super motivated right now. I think he really wants this, he wants to come back and better than ever so that’s something that’s contagious and it always helps to have a buddy, a partner in crime when you’re going through the ins and outs of rehab and the ups and downs.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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