Continued from page 1

“I think everyone in the league is going to be more serious about those things because it’s your head. You only have one head,” he said. “You can’t really do anything about it. You’ve got to make sure it’s a hundred percent so you can perform out there.”

When Backstrom is performing, he’s arguably one of the top 10 players in the NHL. Before suffering the concussion on an elbow to the head from Rene Bourque on Jan. 3, 2011, he was on a 100-point pace and bound for the All-Star Game.

With a shortened season beginning in just over a week, the Caps know they need to start fast. And Backstrom is a major piece of that.

“It’s huge because he’s one of the best players on the team, and we need him desperately,” defenseman Roman Hamrlik said. “So it’s a big thing to have him.”

It’s a big thing for Backstrom to be skating at all. He hadn’t been on the ice in Arlington or anywhere since falling awkwardly into the boards in Russia last month.

Conditioning may take some time.

“Obviously it’s going to take a couple days to get back there,” Backstrom said. “So I’ve got to go to the gym and work hard.”

But teammates were thrilled just to have him skating.

“He looked good. His concerns were making sure that he would be back in time for the season to start, hopefully he is,” Brouwer said. “He was just glad to be back and to be cleared [so] that he can help the team out and not miss any more time.”