Peter Forsberg, the Swede, is hoping he can recapture his best days with a comeback with the Colorado Avalanche.
Peter Forsberg returns to Colorado Avalanche
The Viking returns. At least, he is trying to.
Peter Forsberg, the Swedish thoroughbred who is one of the best players of his generation, has signed with his old team, the Colorado Avalanche.
It has been nearly three years since Forsberg has laced up his skates in the NHL and the hockey world is watching, hopeful that he can reclaim some of his former greatness while at the same time wondering whether this is an ill-advised comeback attempt.
After all, Forsberg is 37 and has been handicapped by a right foot that has forced him to the sidelines on several occasions. As recently as last week, as he endured one of his first-all out practices with the Avs, Forsberg spent much of the session sitting on the bench, fiddling with his right skate, an ominous sign if ever there was one.
However, as pessimistic as Forsberg himself was after that particular practice, he felt good enough a few days later to announce "I want to play," and the Avs took him up on the offer, signing him to a prorated US$1 million (Dh3.67m) deal for the rest of the season.
If Forsberg manages to stay healthy and can play at a fraction of the level of his former self, it is money well spent. One of the few players who truly deserved the "warrior" label - and a superstar one at that - Forsberg's leadership and presence in the dressing room alone are priceless.Of course, that is a big "if", and hockey history tells us not to expect too much. Forsberg was last seen in the NHL in 2007, when he scored 14 points - including 13 assists - in nine games before his uncooperative foot forced him to shut it down for the season.
Before that, it was 57 games in 2006/07 (with Philadelphia and Nashville) and 60 games in 2005/06. Prior to the lockout, Forsberg managed 39 games with Colorado in 2003/04. He played 75 games with the Avs in 2002/03, but let's face it, that was eight long years ago. And he sat out the entire 2001/02 regular season - only to roar back for the play-offs, racking up 27 points in 20 games to lead all post-season scorers despite the fact Colorado lost to Detroit in the conference final.
Surely, that ability to come back from the sidelines and dominate in the play-offs, when the intensity is elevated to the extreme, is as much a testament to his former excellence as his MVP honours and Stanley Cup championships.
And while the Avs are under no illusions that Forsberg, who has played sparingly in Sweden the past few years, will be able to pull off a similar feat, the fact Colorado is giving him a chance speaks of his all-star calibre as well as the hope, however faint, that he can revisit greatness once again.