In his final season-ending interview with Flames TV, Mikael Backlund touched upon his slump this season, his plans for the summer and hopes for next season, as well as his impression of captain, Mark Giordano.
Mikael Backlund confirmed that he will be representing his home country of Sweden in the World Championship, starting in May.
He hopes that the Flames can continue to play next season as they had in the last half of this season. He believes that the Flames have the ability to make playoffs next season if they can play as they did after the minor mid-season slump. “49 1-goal games…if we would’ve won just a few more of those, we would’ve been in the mix.” He also added, “we’re not happy we didn’t make the playoffs but…we played some really good hockey.” Considering the lack of excitement in past years, I think most of the fan base would agree that this new Flames team has an energy about them that has given the fans hope.
As for how to improve for next season, Backs suggested, “next year, we’ve got to find a way to be one of the best teams right away…find a way to win games early on.” His personal goals for next season are to “keep improving.” He said, “we didn’t make playoffs so I can’t be 100% satisfied” and it seems that the forward has taken some of the responsibility. He explained that overall, he was satisfied with reaching the personal goals he set for himself but he hopes to get better by pushing himself next season. He wants to pick up his pace and leave behind his tendency to over-think. Above all, he hopes to become “quicker, faster, [and] stronger” than he was this year.
About captain, Mark Giordano, Backlund had nothing but positive thoughts on his experiences with the captain. He believes that Giordano is a good role model for everyone on the team, explaining, “he works so hard every day…he’s a great leader” for not only the young guys who may need the mentoring but also to his fellow veterans. Backlund confirmed what most of us already knew, “he’s a great guy off the ice…always works hard at the gym…every practice, every game, he’s very dedicated to hockey.”
My thoughts on Backlund’s season is that he seemed to really come out of his shell when he had temporarily donned the “A” on his jersey in the absence of players due to injuries. It seemed to have given him a confidence that was refreshing to see in someone who has been pushed to the background in the past. Given the right opportunity, I’m sure that Backs will show us what he’s really made of next season.