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Avs, Forsberg agree on deal to bring 2003 MVP back to Colorado

DENVER - The Colorado Avalanche knew that Peter Forsberg and his balky right foot came with risks.

They decided the gamble was worth taking. The Avalanche and Forsberg agreed Monday on a deal to bring the NHL's 2003 MVP back to Colorado through the end of the season.

Forsberg will earn around US$1 million prorated from a $5-million, one-year deal, since there are about six weeks left in the regular season.

"He's a premier player in this league," Avalanche general manager Francois Giguere said in a conference call. "We're very excited Peter agreed to come back."

Forsberg won two Stanley Cups in his nine seasons with the Avalanche and won the Hart Trophy in 2003 after scoring 29 goals and adding 77 assists.

Foot and ankle injuries plagued him in the years that followed, but the 34-year-old forward said his surgically repaired right foot is on the mend.

"I feel good," Forsberg said. "I'm confident that it's going to be good."

Forsberg didn't know when he'd return to the ice. The team is in the midst of a five-game road swing, which concludes Wednesday in Vancouver.

He didn't think he would be ready in time for Colorado's game Saturday night against Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center.

Still, he's hopeful. The Avalanche are currently four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and could use him. The team recently got back Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny and captain Joe Sakic from injuries.

"It's a real good lineup," Forsberg said. "We can make a run."

Forsberg had doubts creep into his mind if he'd ever play again, but he quickly shoved them aside.

"I never really wanted to believe it was over," said Forsberg, who won't make a decision about 2008-09 until after this season. "I don't feel that old. I feel like if I can solve this, I could play for a while. I never really gave up hope."

Until Monday's announcement, it appeared Forsberg wouldn't return to an NHL team this season. His agent, Don Baizley, informed teams last week that Forsberg didn't have enough confidence in the strength of his right foot to play.

Forsberg said it wasn't a tactic, merely a way to caution other teams that he might not be ready.

"I always wanted to be honest with teams coming down the stretch," Forsberg said. "I was like, 'If you want to go in a different direction, please do. Don't wait for me.' I didn't want to be a burden. That's why I came out and said that."

The Avalanche were one of a handful of teams vying for Forsberg's services. Philadelphia, Minnesota, Chicago and Ottawa were also believed to be in the hunt.

Forsberg spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Flyers, scoring 115 points in 100 games, before being dealt to Nashville at the trade deadline last season.

"We're proud to announce to our fans that Peter Forsberg has decided to come back and play with our franchise where he's enjoyed so much success early in his career," Giguere said. "His addition should complement our roster and will bring our team to an even higher competitive level."

Forsberg said he has worked "extremely hard" to arrange his return to Colorado.

"I am looking forward to putting this jersey on again," he said. "I have so many great memories of my playing days in Denver. I'm excited about helping my new teammates and former teammates in the coming weeks, and hopefully I am able to do that in the very near future."

Forsberg has been rehabilitating in Sweden and practising with his hometown club, Modo.

He is fourth on Colorado's career scoring list with 741 points in 580 career games.

Forsberg also helped lead Sweden to Olympic gold at Lillehammer in 1994 and Turin in 2006.


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