DENVER – Peter Forsberg will rejoin the Colorado Avalanche—for a reunion, not another comeback.
Although, the Swedish star hasn’t completely ruled out a return to the NHL, either.
“It doesn’t look too good, but I haven’t made a 100 per cent decision yet,” Forsberg said in a conference call Tuesday.
For now, his only on-ice plans are a return to Pepsi Center on Oct. 7 for the Avalanche’s celebration to mark the 15th anniversary of their 1996 Stanley Cup championship.
In all, 26 players and coaches will be in attendance for the reunion, including Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Mike Ricci and Claude Lemieux.
The Avalanche swept the Florida Panthers in the final that year, giving the state of Colorado its first major pro sports crown in the team’s first season in town after relocating from Quebec.
“When you win something, you have a special bond, good memories,” the 37-year-old Forsberg said. “I’m really excited to come and see everybody. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a few of them.”
Forsberg, who won two Stanley Cups titles with Colorado and was the NHL’s MVP in 2003, has only played sporadically in recent years because of a bothersome right foot.
If he has any qualms with his career, it’s that he couldn’t get that surgically repaired foot quite right and remain playing at the level to which he grew accustomed.
“I was battling that problem for so long,” Forsberg said. “I’m so happy that I got to win a lot of things when I was younger. It would be hard if I didn’t get to win the Cup and I was chasing it.
“Of course, I’m sour that if (retirement) happens, I didn’t get to quit on my own terms,” he added. “But I can’t go around thinking I had a bad life. It’s been a good hockey life for me anyway.”
A hockey life that’s included a lot of hardware. He also helped the Swedish national team to gold in the Olympics and IIHF World Hockey Championship.
The bruising but skilful forward spent nine seasons with the Avalanche before heading to Philadelphia following the NHL lockout in 2004-05. He wore a Flyers sweater for 1 1/2 seasons before being dealt to Nashville.
He returned to Denver late in 2007-08, but played in just nine games in the regular season because of a groin injury, his last go-round in the league.
Forsberg remains an immensely popular figure in the Mile High City, his No. 21 sweater a big fan favourite.
“I don’t know if I am popular or not,” Forsberg sheepishly said when asked about his widespread fame in Denver. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. Maybe they felt bad for me when I lost my spleen or something.”
Forsberg had his spleen removed during the Avalanche’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2001. Something the fans, indeed, haven’t forgotten. That’s why the ovation for him should be electric.
“Really looking forward to seeing all the guys and getting on the ice again there, even if it’s just skating or walking,” Forsberg said. “Great to be back there.”
As for his post-hockey career, Forsberg hasn’t decided on that yet. Maybe golf, maybe even some kind of involvement in hockey.
That’s a decision for later. He still hasn’t decided if he’s ready to hang up the skates, even if he sounds like he’s starting to make peace with it.
“It’s going to be OK when I quit hockey,” Forsberg said. “I’ve been prepared that I might have to retire.”