Maybe it’s for the best that Nicklas Backstrom’s teammates were relatively unaware of the giveaway for tonight’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs – because it’s a garden gnome shaped to look like their star center.

You’ve heard of players getting bobbleheads on giveaway nights? This is another level. Joel Ward simply shook his head. Alex Ovechkin laughed when shown a picture of the Backstrom gnome on a smart phone. Brooks Laich was baffled: “Are there a lot of Caps fans that are gardeners?” If this had been common knowledge – and it is now – I’m guessing Backstrom is in for some Level 10 abuse in the locker room.

This will probably be the most popular gift of the season. And Backstrom seemed amused by it. He was just happy the gnome bore a decent resemblance to him and jokingly said he’d keep one next to his bed.

“What a beautiful gift,” said Caps coach Adam Oates. “What a compliment. A gnome!”

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