Niklas Oskar Bäckström
Born February 13, 1978 (age 33) in Helsinki, Finland
Goaltender for the Minnesota Wild
In honor of the great game I watched between the Wild and the Tampa Bay Lightning, let’s profile one of the stars of that game. Backs has spent most of his career in Europe, playing his junior years with HIFK and SaiPa in the Finnish leagues and even playing a year in Sweden’s Elitserien (which is where he learned to speak Swedish). After his stint in Sweden, he went back to the Finnish leagues and played for Kärpät, where he helped lead them to back-to-back league titles in 2004 and 2005; in fact, those titles added to the gold, silver and bronze medals he’d won playing for the Finnish national team in both junior and senior division. A year later, he signed with the Minnesota Wild.
Backs started out as a backup to starting goalie Manny Fernandez, but when he went out with a knee injury, Backs became starter and dazzled everyone. His goals-against average and save percentage were best in the league, while his five shutouts in 36 games tied Dwayne Roloson! By the next season Fernandez was traded, making Backs starting goalie. He racked up 33 wins in the regular season and started in net for their playoff run in 2008 before the Colorado Avalanche eliminated them. In 2009, he signed a four-year extension with the Wild after earning 37 wins and being runner-up for the Vezina. Last year wasn’t as strong as he would’ve liked, but this year is shaping up to be another good one.
If you’re a Wild fan, you noticed Backs wasn’t in net on November 23rd – that’s because he became a daddy that day! In a real twist, his baby was born on the birthday of a certain Captials player named…Nicklas Backstrom. Now that’s what I call BACKSCEPTION.