SUN Hockey Pool

Backlund speeding to junior

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

Despite all the uncertainty and upheaval Mikael Backlund has experienced over the last month, his biggest concern yesterday was laundry.

He's been away from Sweden since Dec. 16 and isn't likely to return home anytime soon after being assigned to the Western Hockey League's Kelowna Rockets right after yesterday's skills competition with the Calgary Flames.

"I think I'll have used all my clothes soon," said Backlund, who suited up for the Red Team yesterday and participated in the puck control relay, as well as the fastest-skater competition.

"But I went out shopping yesterday for a shirt and tie. My mom is coming soon with a big bag."

The bag will have to head through the mountains to the B.C. side, and Backlund will be happy to have some stability in his life for the first time since leaving home for the world junior championships last month.

"Yeah, it'll be cool to know where I'm going to stay for a while," he said.

"It will be good to know what's going on so I can start a new life here."

The press release making the rounds within an hour of his interview, Backlund already had a pretty good idea he'd be headed to the Rockets.

His next appearance at the Saddledome likely will be in at the end of next month, when the Calgary Hitmen host the Rockets Feb. 28.

"That would be cool," said Backlund.

Cool is one way to describe his experience in Calgary over the last week.

He suited up for his first regular-season NHL game Thursday in a win over the New York Islanders. Then, as a bonus, got to stick around for the skills.

"I had no idea this was going on here in Calgary," he said. "I thought I was going to Kelowna, too. It's been a pretty good week."


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