Peter Forsberg: The Love/Hate Relationship

Ron KnabenbauerCorrespondent IAugust 5, 2008

Every off-season, it seems that the Swedish born Peter Forsberg is recovering from an injury. In fact most of the second half of his career has been him recovering from injuries, mostly from his legs. But even when he is not 100% (which is often) he makes opposing players shake in their skates.

Last season it looked like Foppa wasn’t going to play a single NHL game, due to him rehabbing an injury. But a few days after the announcement of not playing, he pulled a Brett Favre, signing with his old team, the Colorado Avalanche, for a one year deal worth one million dollars.

For many, the deal seemed like a bad decision by the Avalanche, but Peter the Great proved them wrong in only nine regular season games. In those games he finished with 14 points, helping the Avs make the postseason for the eleventh time in team history. Though he only had one goal in those games, his presence energized not just the locker room, but also the city of Denver.

His nickname, Peter the Great, is just the tip of Forsberg’s greatness. When he is completely healthy, he is the best player in the NHL, no doubt about it. Forsberg gives 110% every game, even when he’s not 100% healthy. However, that has also become his downfall, falling to injuries way too often, and forcing opposing players to cheap shot him in order to slow him up.

He didn’t even play every possible game for the Avalanche last season, because of another injury he suffered after starting a few games.

Forsberg hasn’t played a full season since the 1995-96 season, and hasn’t played more than 60 games since the 2002-03 season.

In my mind, there are only two teams in the world that Forsberg should ever play for: MoDo in Sweden, and the Colorado Avalanche. But in the new NHL, where the salary cap limits the amount teams can spend on players, it has been increasingly difficult to keep Forsberg, with the knowledge that he’ll miss a good portion of the season, if not most of it.

In the pre-lockout days, the Avs had no problem signing players like Forsberg, Sakic, Foote, Blake, and Hejduk to big contracts, but now, they're having trouble signing Sakic to a deal.

Forsberg isn’t expected to play until December, due to the rehab of his leg injury, meaning teams are staying away until they feel he is ready to do heavy skating again.

So Peter the Great probably won’t sign with a team until November or December, similar to last season, when he didn’t sign until February. He may want to be with a team before then, but NHL organizations will likely see how their season is going, before taking a chance on one of Sweden’s best players.

So what will the Avalanche do with Peter Forsberg?

Clearly the Avs are focused on getting Joe Sakic back into a Colorado sweater by training camp, then Peter Forsberg. However, they would love to have both centers during the regular season. At the moment, Sakic is the more important player, due to his leadership and his long time play with the Franchise.

There’s no doubt that Peter Forsberg can still play hockey at a high level, but he needs to realize that he’s 35 years old and has been injury prone since he last won the Stanley Cup in 2001. He should finish his career with the franchise he started with, but will need to take a lower salary, to help Colorado be under the salary cap. If the Avalanche can get five good months out of him, it would be a win for both sides, but Foppa’s history has shown us that five months has been hard to come by.