ARLINGTON, Va. — Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom skated for about 10 minutes before the Washington Capitals practiced Wednesday, each forward taking the next small step in recoveries from their respective injuries by skating for the first time since their surgeries.
Wilson had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee May 24. Backstrom had resurfacing surgery on his left hip June 17.
“I was excited to see them out there,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “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 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 is not expected to play before December and Backstrom is out indefinitely, and Washington plans to take it slow with both players. Neither skated in full equipment Wednesday and they are not expected to be on the ice again for a few days.
But seeing Wilson and Backstrom skate was encouraging for the entire team.
“It’s so good to see,” Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said. “Nick told me at the bus stop this morning (when they dropped off their children) that he was going on the ice today for the first time, so I was crazy excited to get here and see him out there. Sure enough, he was throwing flat [saucer passes] out there like it was nothing and he hasn’t skated in like six months, five months, whatever.”
The Capitals are off to a 4-3-0 start without Backstrom and Wilson. They visit the Dallas Stars on Thursday (8:30 pm ET; TVAS, BSSWX, NBSCWA, ESPN+, SN NOW),
Backstrom missed the first 28 games of last season rehabbing his hip but had 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 47 regular-season games. The 34-year-old had six points (two goals, four assists) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games but said he might need surgery after the Capitals were eliminated by the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference First Round.
Wilson was injured in the first period of Game 1 on May 3 and missed the remainder of the best-of-7 series. The 28-year-old set NHL career highs last season with 24 goals, 28 assists and 52 points in 78 regular-season games.
“I know they both felt really good to get out there,” Oshie said. “So, it’s a good step, obviously, for the whole organization. As their close friends, it’s a really good step for them and their season to get on the ice and just snap it around a little.”