DENVER – Peter Forsberg isn’t worried about his right foot or his fitness level in his first game with the Colorado Avalanche against Vancouver on Tuesday night.
He’s simply concerned about living up to expectations. “I’m just asking everyone who’s watching for a little patience,” said Forsberg. “It might be a little tough here in the beginning. But I thought I might as well get back playing and get back into it right away.”
The Swedish forward said after the morning skate that his ailing right foot felt healthy enough to play and that he’s growing used to the Mile High City’s altitude.
“Hopefully, I’m adjusted,” Forsberg said.
Forsberg will be on the same line as Milan Hejduk and Joe Sakic, but doesn’t know how much he’ll play. He’ll leave that decision to coach Joel Quenneville.
“I don’t think he’s going to overplay me,” Forsberg said. “He knows it’s the first game for me in a long time.”
Quenneville will let Forsberg’s productivity on the ice dictate his playing time. The 34-year-old has gone through only one practice and one morning skate with the team since signing a one-year deal last week.
“I think Peter’s got a little jump to him,” Quenneville said. “Physically, he’s looked good, looks young. I think he’s refreshed and energized. I think he’s got high expectations and high standards in how he evaluates his play. I don’t want to expect too much from him, but I think in just watching him skating, he looks good.”
The news that Forsberg was going to play spread quickly through the team’s locker-room.
“He’s playing?” said forward Ian Laperriere. “It’s great news. It’s Christmas again.”
Forsberg’s return came at a good time for Colorado, which had Marek Svatos and Ryan Smyth leave with injuries against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Svatos will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and Smyth is out indefinitely after suffering a concussion and a minor shoulder separation on a violent check into the glass partition near the Avalanche bench. Smyth had to be carried off on a stretcher.
“He came out of the hit, as dangerous as it appeared, in not bad shape,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how he handles his concussion and go from there. … I think some of the symptoms that were present immediately are evaporating. I think that’s a good sign.”
Forsberg said he’s going to be a little nervous skating in front of the Avalanche crowd. He’s hoping that no one will expect too much from him.
That’s going to be difficult since Forsberg established quite a legacy during his first stint in Colorado. He helped the team win two Stanley Cups, won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP in 2003 and ranks fourth on the franchise’s career scoring list with 741 points.
“It might not be my best game,” he said. “But I’m excited to get out there and play.”