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Backlund's recovery from concussion on track

The forward joined the team for practice on Thursday

by Aaron Vickers @AAVickers /

CALGARY, AB -- Mikael Backlund would've preferred that his return to the ice featured a different city.

And another team. 

But, back with the Calgary Flames, the 27-year-old was pleased with the strides taken as he recovers from a concussion. 

"It felt good," Backlund said. "It was fun to be back out there with the boys. Everything felt good.

"We'll just take it day-by-day, see how I react to every step I take."

Backlund, a member of Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 in Toronto, sustained the concussion after taking a high hit from Team Finland defenceman Sami Lepisto in a 2-0 round robin win nine days ago.

Had his group advanced to the final of the World Cup, the Vasteras native feels he could've been good to go.

"I thought we were going to get there," said Backlund, originally an injury replacement for Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg. "I'm disappointed we didn't. That was the biggest thing in my mind. I wanted to get back playing. I was hoping in the semifinal. I knew it was tight to get back to play in, hopefully, the finals.

"Time ran out. If I would've stayed and we were in it, I could've played."

Backlund was already en route to Calgary before Team Sweden fell 3-2 in overtime to Team Europe in the semifinal. He didn't get the chance to return to best-of-three final versus Canada.

The outcome didn't dampen Backlund's experience. 

"It was a great experience," he said. "I had a lot of fun. I was nervous a little bit at first … last guy coming in and another guy came in. At first I was the last guy … an extra forward. It's a little different situation for me, but it was a lot of fun to be around the best Swedish team. It was a great experience. It was really cool to play those games. Best-on-best."

A good way to kick off his 2016-17 campaign, no doubt.

"It was a great experience and a good way to start a season, to get those first pre-tournament games and then the real games … high tempo, high intensity … get that winning mentality right away," Backlund said. "Every point matters, every shift matters right away. It was fun and a good experience. 

"It was a great boost to get picked for that team. Sweden is a really good, strong team. Should be in the final, I think. It was a big disappointment. But to get picked was a big honour for me and a big confidence boost knowing I could play against the best."

Backlund's looking to swing that boost forward.

The first step came with his first skate alongside teammates at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday.

"Real encouraging," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He said he felt good. I thought he looked good. Obviously he's been playing for a while so it won't take him that long to get back up to speed but he said he felt good.

"That's a good sign for us."

Sporting a yellow no-contact jersey didn't damped it for Backlund.

After all, he fully expects to be ready to roll when the season starts.

With the Flames.

"I'm not stressed at all," he said.

"I feel confident I'll be back in time and feeling good when I do get back playing."

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