Nicklas Backstrom sells lavender skate sheets in honor of his mother, a survivor of breast cancer

Catrin Backstrom has always put her sons first and taken them to all hockey practices when they were younger, and that was no different when she got some devastating news three years ago. The center of Washington Capitals, Nicklas Backstrom, was in the middle of a play-off run, so she kept her diagnosis of breast cancer secret until his season was over.

"So that I can concentrate on hockey," he said. "I think it was right to do, but it kept me on guard, you hear so much about it, but when you and your family are bothered by it, it comes as a shock."

Catrin has been cancer free for a year, but that experience remained with Backstrom, who has a new appreciation for the struggle to defeat the disease and the fear that a family can wrinkle when a loved one is diagnosed. As part of the Capitals & # 39; Hockey Fights Cancer night Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Backstrom carries lavender skates in warmups for the competition that he will sign and auction, with proceeds to Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Flashes of Hope. The auction runs through the second pause of the Washington match against Columbus; The auction listing of Backstrom can be viewed here.

For Backstrom, it is a way to honor his mother in the city for the game.

"She had to go through a difficult time," he said. "I feel it's important to show my support and it will be a surprise to her … I have to pay back so much to her for everything she did for us, me and my brother, when we were younger were, and everything she had sacrificed, driving us every time to the ice rink.If my father was at work, she was the one who cared for us.I'm very close to my mother and I'm lucky, and there I am happy. "

Two years ago, when she was still going through the treatment, Capitals players wore Hockey Fights Cancer sweaters during warm-ups, and Backstrom had "Catrin" as his nameplate on the back, as did fellow Sweden Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson . He was the one who approached the capitals and suggested an auction for the customized skate irons with his name, number and the Hockey Fights Cancer logo printed on it. Catrin won her battle against cancer and now Backstrom wants to help others do the same.

"It's just a difficult thing to do, I think, to have that in your thoughts and possibilities," Backstrom said. "For someone who has not had it, I think it's really hard to understand, I just asked her, and she's the kind of person she's always happy and smiling, but she thought about it a lot and but I mean, she did well and she remained positive. "