There were no pink balloons floating above Nicklas Backstrom’s locker stall but there were plenty of hugs and handshakes for the 25-year-old Capitals center Wednesday following the birth of his first child, a baby girl named Haley.
Backstrom and his girlfriend Liza Berg welcomed their first child into the world at about 4 a.m. on Tuesday.
“It was probably the best moment of my life so far,” Backstrom said. “It’s just a great feeling when it’s all over. It’s just a long wait. You’re a combination between being nervous and excited. It’s a big moment for me and my girls.”
Liza and Haley are expected to be released from the hospital on Thursday, prior to the Caps’ home game against the Carolina Hurricanes, their first of a five-game homestand.
Backstrom, who was excused from practice on Tuesday, admitted hockey was the furthest thing from his mind as he held his newborn child for the first time.
“I was just staring at her the whole time,” he said. “It’s hard to describe the feeling. If you’ve been there yourself I think you understand it better. It’s a great feeling and we’re so happy.”
Backstrom said Haley’s facial features are a combination of him and Liza, adding, “I was hoping more for her mom, for her future.”
Backstrom said he was a little nervous that Liza, who was due to deliver on Sunday, would go into labor while the Capitals were playing in Dallas on Saturday night.
“That’s something you want to be here for and not be on the road,” he said.
Capitals veteran left wing Jason Chimera, who has two children of his own and has a locker stall adjacent to Backstrom, was asked if he has any fatherly advice for the new dad.
“Patience,” Chimera said with a wry smile.
“Any father knows how cool it is the first time you see your kid. It makes you grow up in a hurry. I’m sure he’s very excited to get home. You kind of stare at your kid for hours and that baby smell, you never get that back. They don’t smell like that any more, that’s for sure.”
Backstrom said he was anxious to return to the hospital to see his new family and is looking forward to starting a new routine at home.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a new chapter in our life,” he said. “Instead of laying on the couch after practice I’m going to change a couple diapers. I’ll happily do that.”