Wednesday night before the start of the preseason game between Brynäs and Djurgården, Nicklas Bäckström finally received his Olympic Silver medal in his home town of Gävle. He received the medal from the chairman of the Swedish Hockey Federation, Christer Englund. The head coach for Tre Kronor, Pär Mårts, was also present on the ice, as was former Brynäs captain and fellow member of the Olympic silver winning team in Sochi, Jakob Silfverberg.
It wasn’t the biggest crowd in the building but they made up for it with cheers when Bäckström received the medal.
After the game Bäckström talked to Gefle Dagblad’s Magnus Hägerborn.
“It feels good, it took awhile but better late than never, right?” Bäckström said.
With the medal in your hand, what does it mean for you?
“It feels good, actually. It feels like I was vindicated, and it feels good to finally have it.”
Was it important for you to get the medal?
“Yes, it was especially important before they decided that I would receive a medal. Everything was up in the air at that point, and I didn’t know what would happen. After they told me, it felt good and yeah, it was positive. It’s always…an Olympic medal in hockey isn’t a bad thing.”
Can you appreciate it more today then maybe you would have after the final?
“Yeah, I actually think so. If we had lost the final, and I would have been part of it, I’d probably be really disappointed when I got it. But now, half a year later, it feels like I appreciate it more. It means very much to me.”
Is it special for you to receive it here in Gävle?
“Yes, that’s great as always, since I grew up here and played hockey here both with the junior team and with A-laget (Brynäs SEL team). And it’s the town itself, too. This was really fun.”
What happens now?
“I’m going back on Monday and the camp starts on the 18th. That gives me some time to reset to another time zone and then it’s time to put the pedal to the metal.”
New coach and new general manager.
“Exactly, it’s gonna be fun. It brings some extra motivation and excitement. It feels good, we have had a lot of different coaches these last couple of years but at the same time, I hope we can keep this one and build from the ground up.”
The allergies, any problems with that?
“Nothing at all. It’s not that time of year.”
Bäckström also talked to Hans Abrahamsson from Aftonbladet.
It’s six month later, how do you look back at everything that happened?
“I’m not really a person that dwells on things too long. Yeah, I did dwell on it for a few weeks but after that I let it go pretty fast. I couldn’t make it undone, it was what it was, so I had to look forward.”
Do you feel like you could have done anything different?
“The only thing I feel now is that I could have not taken that damn pill.”
Do you feel disgust taking your allergy medicine now?
“No I don’t actually. It’s different over there.” (In North America).
[Bäckström talked to Stisse Åberg from gd.se about his allergy medicine: Åberg: “I asked, of course, if he is still taking his medicine and got the honest answer: “When I feel my allergies, I do.”]
How was those first few weeks after the Olympics, there must have been a tremendous pressure on you?
“Yes, it was, but at the same time: That’s how it works in today’s society. I know that I couldn’t have made anything different. I was open and honest about it from the get go. Then people will twist and turn things, that I’m weird for what I’m doing, and people will say things.”
Do you feel like you have been treated unfairly?
“No, I was the one the tested positive so it’s nothing strange about it.”
How has the contact been with Pär Mårts [Tre Kronor’s head coach]?
“No problems at all. I have talked some to him and there’s no weird feelings.”
How about the team doctor, Björn Waldebäck, have you talked to him too?
“Yes, I have talked a little bit with him after what happened. It’s unfortunate what has happened and the truth is out there. Personally I think that Björn is a kind and good guy. There’s absolutely no hard feelings from my side.”
[Ed. note: Some additional context on the Bäckström-Waldebäck relationship, Bäckström has had Waldebäck as the national team doctor on and off since he was a teenager. Waldebäc has been the doctor at hand when Bäckström had problems with his migraines while playing for the national team].
Bäckström talked to Brynäs’s site the day before the ceremony.
Where will you hang the medal?
“I think I will hang it with my gold medal from the 2006 World Championship.”
How has your summer been?
“I had a great summer. It’s been a pretty long summer and time for a lot of preseason training. But it has gone well, we have worked hard and my body feels great. That’s a great feeling to have and important now when we are going back for another tough season.”
Update, August 29
Nicklas talked some more to Magnus Hägerborn last night.
What are you going to do with your silver medal?
“I’m going to sleep with it tonight, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Bäckström has dabbled with CrossFit before but this summer he has gone all in on the CrossFit concept.
“I wanted to try something new and I have been really pleased with it. It’s a tough workout that leaves me with a taste of blood in my mouth. It’s going to be exciting and interesting to see what sort of result this type of training can do for my hockey game during the season.”
Nicklas’ brother, Kristoffer Bäckström, has made room for Nicklas on his team Oppala/Sätra’s skating sessions.
“He is some sort of a playing coach there at the moment, until they find someone new. It’s always better to train with a team, it gives more than to train on your own.”