Magazine > Lifestyle
Capital City Slickers
Period Magazine :: Spring 2010 Issue
By Corey Masisak
smooth-skating Swedish centreman has a penchant for racking up assists on
the ice and finding breaks from the hustle and bustle of the most powerful
city in the world. He enjoys hanging with friends in Georgetown on days
off, but Backstrom has a little speed junkie in him as well.
wintery month that was more Winnipeg than Washington,
car aficionado Mike Green is eager to hop in his most
recent addition and take advantage of the first warm
day in weeks.
Practice is over for the young Washington Capitals
star, but he must first navigate several dozen fans
pining for his signature before an afternoon drive in
his black Bentley Continental GT beckons. This
Capitals team, flush with precocious talents like
Green, Nicklas Backstrom and of course the
incomparable Alex Ovechkin, has vaulted to the top of
the NHL and collected vast numbers of new fans in this
city along the way.
Green patiently signs for nearly every person,
young and old, who waited in the parking lot
outside the team’s practice facility in
Arlington, Va. After he was done and shuffled
towards his car, several sets of eyes gazed with
wonder – not at the approachable hockey savant,
but at his beautiful new ride.
“I just really enjoy cars and have always been a
fanatic, whether it is putting on wheels on a
car or something like that – I just love them,”
Green said. “This car is my favourite by far.
Well, so far.”
This town has three professional sports teams
with recent results that are more laughable than
lovable. But then there are the Capitals, who
not only win but do so with panache. Ovechkin
earns plenty of deserved credit, but Green and
Backstrom have developed into world-class
sidekicks – both on and off the ice.
While they are young, Green, 24, and Backstrom,
22, are among the best in the sport at their
positions, and are enjoying the spoils that can
bring them. Fast cars, designer clothes,
extravagant homes – they are loving life in the
“They’re both young guys with wallets full of
money and they enjoy the finer things,” teammate
Brooks Laich said. “It is their way of exuding
their personality. I think they have fun with it
and they look good.”
Backstrom is still the quiet guy in the group.
He’s not the shy kid from Sweden who hung out at
Michael Nylander’s house during his rookie
season anymore, but Backstrom is still a little
more grounded than Green and especially Ovechkin.
His clothing choices aren’t as flashy, but don’t
mistake him for being conservative.
“You have to look at the name brands on his
clothes, because he is a name brand guy,” Green
said. “If you look at his outfits, sometimes
he’s got three-to-four thousand dollars worth of
gear on and people don’t notice that.”
Added Backstrom: “I would say I definitely have
more of a European style. The jeans are a little
bit tighter, and all my suits are a little bit
tighter. I think everyone has their own style
Backstrom was part of a crew of Capitals (that included Green and Ovechkin,
of course) who spent an afternoon during training camp racing
high-performance go-karts. He’s also not hurting for horsepower in his
Mercedes SL63 AMG.
“I just felt like I wanted to have one sports car and one a little
bigger,” said Backstrom, who also owns a Mercedes SUV. “I just figured out
that I like Mercedes and it is a great car. It is too bad you can’t drive
like we’re in Germany on the Autobahn ... but I can find some places where
I can try.”
Backstrom’s place in Arlington is pretty modest, especially compared to
the penthouse Green moved into and spruced up last summer (no outdoor hot
tub with a projection screen to watch movies like Green’s pad, for
He is in the final year of his rookie contract and has yet to ink the
lavish extension that awaits him. He doesn’t want to discuss what might be
the first purchase after signing a deal that will likely secure his
financial future. Backstrom could become his country’s biggest star, a
position once held by the likes of Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin, but he
remains humble and not willing to assume what others see as inevitable.
That said, Backstrom has begun building a house in his hometown of Gavle,
Sweden, and it will not be quite as reserved as his American apartment.
“It is going to be a real toy house,” he says with a sly smile.
Green landed his first mega contract in July 2008, a four-year, $21
million pact. Growing up in Calgary, Green was not a product of privilege
like so many hockey players tend to be.
“I think it has been overwhelming at times,” Green said. “Growing up
without money – not without money but sometimes with very little – my
parents had to work very hard. Sometimes they had up to three jobs to
support us. That is something I don’t want for my kids, and I have an
incredible opportunity now to live this life I wanted when I was younger.”
This life has presented Green with a bit of an enviable dilemma. As
previously mentioned, he loves his cars. Many kids have a favourite
growing up – just as Green idolized defencemen Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr,
he had one sports car in mind.
Shortly after Green signed his new deal, that car – a white Lamborghini
Gallardo – was his. The problem is Green soon realized he needed something
more practical, hence the sparkling new Bentley.
“It is hard to drive the Lambo around here in Arlington and downtown. The
roads aren’t that great, so I needed something new,” Green said. “I’m
thinking of selling it, but it is hard for me because I am such a car guy.
Just as a kid, it was my dream car and right after I signed my contract
and knew I was going to be here for a while I went out and treated myself.
I’ve had fun with it but I don’t know what I am going to do with it. I’ll
probably end up keeping it because it is such a sick car and it has been
my dream car since I was young.”
Those aren’t the only two vehicles in the Green collection. He also boasts
a pair of Cadillac Escalades. One is black with a touch of red. The other
is white and to help reduce his carbon footprint, a hybrid.
“I needed a truck for at home and instead of shipping it back and forth, I
just left [the black one] there,” Green said. “I really like the Escalade
because it is comfortable and roomy. It is just a great truck.”
Most likely content with his automobiles, Green may look to the water for
his next big purchase. When Green returned to training camp before last
season, one item on his wish list was a boat for his friends in Alberta to
Consider that mission not accomplished to this point, though.
“No, not yet,” he said with a sigh. “I want to but I don’t know a lot
about boats. I rented a few last summer to try them out, and I may end up
buying one this summer.”
Green is the league’s best offensive defenceman, likely to lead the NHL in
goals at his position for a third straight season and points for a second
consecutive campaign. He loves to carry the puck, and his creative forays
into the offensive end can be high-risk but also offer significant value
to Washington’s high-flying offence.
He is similarly inventive when it comes to deciding what clothes to wear.
Hard to pigeon-hole, Green’s wardrobe draws from a few genres.
“It is unique, but it fits his personality,” Laich said. “He’s edgy and a
little wild. Some days it is very interesting – almost like an art class
sort of thing. Some days you kind of wonder, ‘If he bought that, I hate to
see the one he didn’t buy.’ ”
Much of Green’s taste in clothes comes from his days spent as a kid on a
skateboard. When he was signing autographs that sunny day in Arlington, he
did so while sporting a simple, black DC Shoes shirt and backwards New
York Yankees hat (for the record, Green says he’s a Nationals fan but the
cap from the Bronx “looks good”).
He is a frequent shopper at underground boutiques where custom shoes and
shirt designs are sought-after commodities.
“His style is getting better,” Backstrom said. “When I first came here he
was all about the skateboard style, and he still has that but I’ve been
getting him into a little bit tighter suits and he’s picking it up.”
Both Backstrom and Green have moved beyond just being the other kids
hoping to help Ovechkin turn Washington into a winner. The Capitals hope
to cement their status as a league superpower this spring with a deep
If it happens, it won’t just be the flashy, fun-loving Ovechkin who
receives all the attention – though he might deserve a tiny bit of credit
for helping Backstrom and Green develop their sense of style away from the
“I think Alex is an extremist,” Green said. “Anything he does has to be
the extreme level, whether it his cars or his clothes. I think that’s just
Alex, and he pushes the envelope for other guys to step their game up.”