Mikael Backlund knows Jonathan Huberdeau struggled but can bounce back

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Middleton
9 months ago
Mikael Backlund is an extraordinarily influential player in the Calgary Flames organization and has been for some time. Even though we’re still not sure what his future is with the team, we know that he has earned a certain respect in the locker room with anyone that comes in, rookie or veteran.
Jonathan Huberdeau’s first season in Calgary was defined by his poor production in the scoresheet, and it’s no secret that he has been doing everything he can both on and off the ice to return to the form that he held with the Florida Panthers, where he scored a career-high 115 points on the way to the President’s Trophy. And Backlund has noted the kind of changes that Huberdeau went through moving from the Florida market to one like Calgary, and he clearly has full confidence that Huberdeau can get back to the player he was, according to an interview with Swedish journalist Uffe Bodin.
“He had played for a long time in Florida before he was traded to us. He probably got a climate shock and a little coach shock compared to what he was used to before as well. It was a big adjustment for him, quite difficult conditions to adjust to. Not least coming from the USA to Canada. A guy like Tkachuk went from Calgary to Florida. It will be a little easier with less media, less pressure from fans. It was tough for “Huby” when things don’t go the way he wants, and of course, it affects the team as well. He is a great guy with a lot of hockey in him, and we hope he finds his way back to his game as well.”
There has been lots of talk recently about Ryan O’Reilly taking his talents to Nashville, supposedly because one of the factors was the pressures of the Toronto media market and the spotlight that he would be put in if he were to re-sign there, and Backlund touches on that kind of pressure for Huberdeau in the Calgary media market as well. Playing in front of Canadian fans is no joke, and there is plenty of baggage to come with it, and that plus a head coach that teaches a different style than you’re used to as a player is not going to mesh well.
All of that being said, with a new head coach and being committed long-term to the franchise, Backlund hopes that Huberdeau can find his way back to his Florida form, and coming from a leader in the locker room, it means more than many might know to have someone like Backlund express confidence in your abilities to be an impactful player on a team like the Flames. If he’s going to stay, we’ve seen what kind of leader he can be, and someone like Huberdeau might benefit from it as much as the young players trying to break their way into the lineup.

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