To some, it may seem sacrilegious.
I mean, who other than Wayne Gretzky has the audacity to wear No. 99 in professional hockey?
Nicklas Backstrom, that’s who.
On Monday, the Capitals center made his debut with Dynamo Moscow wearing the Great One’s old number, which was retired by the NHL after Gretzky ended his glorious career.
Backstrom says he chose No. 99 simply because his No. 19 was taken by teammate Denis Kokarev. No. 91 was also taken by teammate Marek Kvapil. For what it’s worth, No. 9 was also taken.
Backstrom did his best Gretzky impersonation, setting up a goal by new/old teammate Alex Ovechkin in Dynamo’s 3-0 win at Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
Ovechkin was asked about Backstrom’s number before Monday’s game.
“Nicklas told me, ‘I’ll be like Gretzky in Russia,’” Ovechkin told Russian reporters.
When Backstrom was asked if he planned on being the Swedish Gretzky, he replied, “No, the Swedish Backstrom.”
Backstrom is not the only player in the KHL to wear No. 99. In fact he played against another No. 99 in his KHL debut, facing off against Lokomotiv defenseman Alexander Guskov, who also wore No. 99.
As for Ovechkin he climbed to third in the KHL in scoring with six goals and 8 assists for 14 points in 13 games. He trails Ilya Kovalchuk [7-13-20 in 11 games] and Evgeni Malkin [5-12-17 in 13 games].