Peter Forsberg’s announcement Monday that it is “highly unlikely” he’ll play in the NHL this season was greeted by disappointment in these parts, but in reality it was the best news the Vancouver Canucks could have received one week before the trade deadline.
Signing Forsberg to a contract would have been a very expensive mistake for the Canucks, or any other team that would have signed him this season. The Canucks were undoubtedly in the mix for Forsberg, perhaps not heavily, but in the mix nonetheless, and having him off the market allows them to work toward the deadline without the Forsberg distraction clouding things.
Teams with visions of Stanley Cups dancing in their heads with an addition of Forsberg were playing a mug’s game from the very start. Forsberg is nowhere near the player he was when he was a force in the NHL and the fact of the matter is, any team with Forsberg in its lineup literally cannot count on him from one game to the next.
Compound that by the fact Forsberg was reportedly looking for a multi-year deal and signing him had disaster written all over it. Chances are, Forsberg would have come to the NHL, played at a reasonably high level for a little while, then either had foot issues or some other injury and would have retreated back to Sweden in the off-season to begin the will-he-or-won’t-he exercise in futility all over again.
But thankfully, it looks as though the Canucks have been spared of all that and can now spend the next week examining whether or not they should make any meaningful changes or go into the playoffs with the team they have.
According to reports, the Canucks were bolstered in a big way by their win over the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night, not only because they beat the Oilers 4-2, but also because they managed to deal with all the abuse the Oilers could throw at them.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here. The Canucks won because they’re a far superior team to the Oilers and getting the better of mega-thug Zack Stortini and a very bad Oilers team shouldn’t be perceived as knocking off the Philadelphia Flyers circa 1975.
Stortini is a big, slow, knuckle-dragging pug with limited skill, and the Oilers, despite coach Craig MacTavish’s claim it was an intense battle between two teams with a lot on the line, know they’re playing for absolutely nothing this season and have a snowball’s chance in Hades of making the playoffs.
But it was undoubtedly a good thing for a team looking for good things, wherever it can find them. And with Forsberg pulling himself out of the running, that was just another good thing for the Canucks.
This column also appears in the Vancouver Metro newspaper.
Ken Campbell, co-author of the book The Top 60 Since 1967, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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