The Calgary Flames are proud to announce Mikael Backlund as the club’s nominee for the 2016-17 NHL Foundation Player Award presented annually to the player who applies the core values of hockey – commitment, perseverance and teamwork – to enrich the lives of people in his community.
Backlund’s commitment to enriching the lives of others has been irrefutable. Dating back to the 2013 floods in Calgary, he was first on the phone to orchestrate a fundraiser for flood relief on the morning of June 21, just hours before he was scheduled to fly home to Sweden for the summer. Once he arrived home, Backlund unfortunately had to say goodbye to one of his best friends who had a long and courageous battle with cancer. It was then that he decided to enter the “Ride for Hope” bike race in Sweden in his honour. The 28 year old ended up raising $23,000 for children’s cancer research and now makes it an annual event.
Backlund and his girlfriend Frida Engstrom support three local charities – ALS Society of Alberta, Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta, and Special Olympics Calgary.
For the past three years, Mikael and Frida have hosted families at a Flames home game on a monthly basis who are personally affected by ALS. Through their program, the families receive lower bowl tickets, a post-game meet and greet with the Backlund, a signed jersey, and Calgary Flames Backlund t-shirts. In partnership with KPMG, Backlund also donates $200 for every point he records each season to the ALS Society of Alberta.
In February 2016 Backlund attended a school fundraiser in support of a student named Ethan, who organized a head shave in benefit of the Kid’s Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta. Mikael signed autographs, donated a signed jersey to the school, and spoke to the students about the importance of getting behind their classmate. In recognition of his efforts, the Flames first round pick from the 2007 NHL Draft presented Ethan with his very own Backlund jersey and tickets to an upcoming game alongside his family. In total, 20 children joined the head shave that included a couple of female students cutting off 12 inches of their hair to donate to wigs along with a few who shaved their heads completely. Following the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, Mikael and Frida visited the school once again to assist with Ethan’s BBQ where proceeds from all burger and hot dogs sold supported the charity. On an annual basis, the Flames forward hosts 20 children who are battling the disease at a home game.
Every season, Backlund attends the Special Olympics Calgary “Breakfast with Champions” annual fundraiser which supports more than 800 individuals with intellectual disabilities in the Calgary area. On two occasions this year, he organized a floor hockey game alongside the athletes and some of his Flames teammates.
In 2014, the native of Vasteras, Sweden was awarded with the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award presented annually by the Calgary Flames organization to the Flames player who best exemplifies perseverance, determination and leadership on the ice, combined with dedication to community service off the ice.
Along with the above mentioned endeavors, he assists in a variety of community initiatives for the Flames organization through the Calgary Flames Foundation including the Flames annual Poker Tournament, along with annual visits to the Alberta Children’s Hospital for wheelchair hockey and over the holiday season. Mikael Backlund understands the importance of community service. His caring and sensitive nature has made him an incredible ambassador for the Calgary Flames organization.
Finalists for all league awards will be announced at a later date by the National Hockey League.