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Peter Forsberg: An Obituary for the Career of One of the NHL's Best

9 Jun 2001:  Peter Forsberg #21 of the Colorado Avalanche raises the Stanley Cup in Denver, Coloardo after losing his spleen earlier, during the Western Conference Finals series, in pursuit of the 2001 NHL Stanley Cup Championship.  DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Erik PaulCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2011

Peter "Foppa" Forsberg was drafted sixth overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

On June 30, 1992, before ever playing an NHL game, Forsberg was traded to the Quebec Nordiques, along with Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, two first-round picks (one used to select Jocelyn Thibault and the other traded twice) and $15 million.

The trade became one of the most lopsided in NHL history and helped the Nordiques build the foundation of a perennial contender around Forsberg and captain Joe Sakic.

Forsberg made his NHL debut on January 21, 1995 in the first game of the 1994-95 lockout-shortened season. He scored his first point in his first game and went on to score 50 points in 47 games, earning him the Calder Trophy for best rookie.

During the following summer, the Nordiques were sold and moved to Denver, becoming the Colorado Avalanche. Forsberg scored a career-best 116 points in the 1995-96 regular season. In the playoffs, Foppa added 21 points in 22 games, helping the Avalanche claim their first Stanley Cup.

Forsberg and the Avalanche were amongst the best teams in the NHL for the next eight seasons but only won one more Stanley Cup, in 2001. Forsberg had scored 14 points in 11 games in the first two playoff rounds but suffered a ruptured spleen and missed the rest of the playoffs.

On the advice of his doctors, Forsberg decided to take the next regular season off but returned for the playoffs. Despite not playing a single regular season game, Forsberg became the only player to ever lead the playoffs in scoring without playing in the Finals, as the Avalanche lost to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in the Western Conference Finals.

The following season was Forsberg's best in the NHL, as he won the Art Ross and Hart Trophies. However, the Avalanche were upset by the Minnesota Wild in seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

2003-04 was Forsberg's final season with the Avalanche, but he played just 39 games due to injuries. Forsberg spent the 2004-05 season playing for Modo in Sweden because of the NHL lockout, and the salary cap that came out of the lockout made it impossible for the Avalanche to keep Forsberg.

He signed with the Philadelphia Flyers and then won a gold medal in the 2006 Olympics. Forsberg was traded the following season to the Nashville Predators.

Forsberg sat out most of the 2007-08 season with injuries but joined the Colorado Avalanche for another chance at a Stanley Cup. The Avalanche were eliminated in the second round, and Forsberg played just seven of 10 playoff games because of a bad foot/ankle.

Forsberg left the NHL for the next two seasons before attempting one final comeback this season. He joined the Colorado Avalanche but managed only two games before announcing his retirement.

Forsberg leaves the NHL with the 10th highest points-per-game mark of any player in history at 1.25. He also sits fourth in career assists per game, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr. Forsberg is one of only three players to ever join the Triple Gold Club (World Championship, Olympics, Stanley Cup) twice.

Peter Forsberg is one of the best players the NHL has ever seen, and despite his largely unsuccessful comeback attempts, his reputation should remain untarnished. Instead of criticizing him for wanting to play, hockey fans should thank him for making them want to watch.

 

Follow Erik on Twitter: @ekpaul87

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