Backstrom undergoes sports hernia surgery

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Goaltender Niklas Backstrom underwent surgery on Thursday to repair the sports hernia that caused him to miss the entire playoffs for the Minnesota Wild.

Backstrom, who tied for the league lead with 24 wins in the regular season, missed the entire playoffs after coming up with an injury in the pregame warmups of Minnesota’s first-round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Backstrom had tried to return with the injury and practiced with the team, but he was unable to play again.

The Wild announced that the surgery, performed by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia, was successful and Backstrom is expected to make a full recovery in time for the 2013-14 season.

Backup goalie Josh Harding started each game of the playoffs in Minnesota’s 4-1 series loss to Chicago. Backstrom was 24-15-3 during the regular season with a 2.48  goalsagainst average and .909 save percentage. He started 26 of the team’s final 27 games as the Wild looked to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

“It’s tough when you find out about it, but you try to find a different place to get back there as soon as possible,” Backstrom said. “And I think mentally it’s good for you to work on your rehab so you don’t think too much about missing the game and you can’t be with the guys out on the ice. For me it was more to focus on the rehab and try to get back on the ice and make sure that if things work out I could be playing with a good level and help the team.”

Backstrom, 35, is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, though both sides have said they’re open to a return.

Backstrom said it will be the first time he will go through recovery from a sports hernia surgery. He felt the large workload helped him during the season and that he will return next season and be ready to play 60-plus games.

“I think I proved that this year with the schedule,” Backstrom said. “I felt good the whole year. It’s fun to play. I think for me it’s always been easier the more I play and get out there. When it’s fun, it’s easy.”

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