Reunited and It Feels So Good: Forsberg and Naslund Rediscover Hockey
He was only gone for just over six months, but Markus Naslund is back.
The 36-year-old Swede has come out of retirement and is set to join his childhood friend Peter Forsberg, playing for their hometown team of MoDo of the Swedish Elite League (SEL).
Naslund, who walked away from the final year of his contract with the New York Rangers in May and left behind $4 million US, will play the remainder of the season for free and not take up any cap space for MoDo.
"I'm really looking forward to playing with MoDo again and the fact that Peter and I will do it together is, of course, something really special," Naslund said in a statement. "I will do anything to get in shape and hope I can add something on the ice."
Naslund's retirement from the NHL was largely seen as a premature but was likely the result of a huge decline in production during his later years with the Vancouver Canucks and his short and rather unmemorable stint as a Ranger last season.
Forsberg, who is also not playing under a salary for MoDo, was the center of a yet another media frenzy after it was reported that he could be making a return to the NHL this season, a rumor that was buried after it was announced that he would be playing in Sweden this year.
There is also speculation that both Forsberg and Naslund may be playing for MoDo in order to get in shape for Team Sweden at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but for the time being it seems as though both players are just trying to rediscover their love for hockey.
And who can blame them?
Forsberg's name has become notorious as a highly talented but extremely injury-prone player, while Naslund's success rate dropped drastically when his line-mate and go-to guy Todd Bertuzzi was traded to the Florida Panthers in 2006.
Forsberg and Naslund will have to dig deep and find those two kids from Örnsköldsvik who didn't use worry about playing for a contract or endorsements and just played the game because it was something that brought them joy.
More money, more problems, as they say.
What these two players have now have is a rare opportunity to show the world they are still capable of competing at an elite level and perhaps even clean up their now tarnished names.
An opportunity that no matter what anyone says, cannot be taken away from them.
And even if they decide to never return to the NHL again, they will always remember the season they learned that it wasn't always about money, but it was always about heart.
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