BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom addressed the media for the first since January 6 Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, saying that while he is feeling better, he has no timetable for a return to action.
"I'm doing good," Backstrom said. "It's a long process, but I'm getting better."
Backstrom suffered a head injury January 3 when former Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, currently of the Montreal Canadiens, caught him with an elbow to the jaw. Backstrom has not played since and has skated for a total of five minutes in the last 36 days, that coming January 23.
Backstrom did not expand on the process that he is going through to get better, but did note that it is the same process that his teammate Jay Beagle went through after suffering a concussion October 13. Beagle did not play again until December 28.
The NHL requires a certain protocol for its players when dealing with head injuries, explains The Washington Post's Katie Carrera:
NHL protocols mandate that in order to return to play, he must be symptom free at rest, symptom free with exertion levels required for game-play and then reach his baseline level on a neuropsychological test before he is back in a game. Players undergo neuropsychological testing prior to the start of each season to establish a baseline.
While Backstrom said that he is "not 100 percent to skate right now," he did say that he has been riding the stationary bike. Other than that, he is trying his best to stay patient and positive.
"If you want that answer, you've got to ask [head athletic trainer Greg Smith], I think," Backstrom said when asked about a possible return date. "But other than that, we take it day by day and see how it goes."
"Obviously, you want to be out there and play with the team," he continued. "But this is the situation you've got to deal with."