DENVER, Colo. – That brief run at the end of the 2007-2008 season which propelled the Colorado Avalanche into the playoffs and the few playoff games he managed to play in in that same post season is not how Peter Forsberg wants to end his NHL career.
On January 22, 2011 the Avalanche faithfull recieved word that Forsberg was in town and planning to skate with the Avalanche – at least in practice. His hope is to test his ability to play the game on an NHL level by practicing with NHL players.
Forsberg’s ties to Colorado (he still owns a downtown Denver penthouse) and loyalty to a team where he played the best years of his professional career led him to request the opportunity to skate and practice with the current Avalanche team
With no promises of a contract or any real certainty of where he stands, Forsberg has participated in three game day skates and two full blown practices in the six days he has been in Colorado. My personal observations as well as information gleaned from other members of the media has been positive regarding his skill, skating, and conditioning.
His first chance to test himself occured Saturday January 22 when Forsberg was on ice at the Pepsi Center participating with the team in the gameday skate. A press conference followed the skate session where Forsberg talked about his decision to come to Colorado and test himself.
During the first intermission of the Avalanche/Bruins game on Saturday night Forsberg was interviewed by Kyle Keefe of Altitude TV.
Sunday January 23 at 11:00 A.M., after a tough loss the previous night to the Boston Bruins, the Avalanche took to the ice with Forsberg joining them for a long hard practice consisting of numerous skating, stickhandling, checking, and scoring drills. With no obvious favoring of his oft injured ankle, Forsberg skated hard and fast, making smooth quick turns and demonstrating escapability and puck control much to the delight of the more than 200 fans crammed together in the small seating area above the practice arena.
It was amazing to watch a superstar like Forsberg acting like every rinkrat in the world who just can not make themselves leave the ice. He, Matt Duchene, and Milan Hedjuk continued to pass and shoot and chit chat for a good 15 to 20 minutes after the bulk of the players had headed to the locker room.
After the practice about 60 fans made their way around to the rear parking lot of the Avalanche practice facility at Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colorado, hoping to get an autograph or have a quick word with one the most popular of all the Avs past or present.
Peter Forsberg did not disappoint and although he was obviously exhausted and most likely hungry after such a arduous physical workout he stayed and signed autographs and had a few words for each of the fans who approached his vehicle. His graciousness and genuine pleasure to be back on Colorado and on the ice playing hockey were evident to fans as he could not keep the smile off his face.
Monday morning it was back to the Pepsi Center for another game day skate with the team before the Avalanche played the St, Louis Blues. Once again Forsberg skated well and continued to increase his stamina. He is likely still getting adjusted to Colorado’s higher altitude which usually takes three to five days.
A win against the Blues on Monday led to a slighlty less grueling practice for the team on Tuesday. Forsberg continued to push himself and recieved more encouraging reviews on his play from coach Joe Sacco who, according to Denver Post sports writer Adrian Dater said, ” He (Forsberg) is skating well. He looked good out there today.”
Wednesday morning’s pregame skate was the last time Forsberg was able to skate with the team until after the All Star break. Starting Thursday January 27 NHL players can not participate in official team activities until Monday January 31. Forsberg plans to skate on his own at one of the local rinks and of course players who are staying in the area may also join in unofficial skate sessions.
All signs point to a return to active NHL playing status for Peter Forsberg but he will not give a date or set a timetable. He has expressed a desire to listen to his body and see how it goes. We can only hope he hears good things from his body and it goes along the lines of a successful return to the NHL via the Avalanche some time in the next few weeks.