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Optimistic Forsberg nears decision on return

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 6:22 PM / NHL Insider

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

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Optimistic Forsberg nears decision on return
An upbeat Peter Forsberg practiced again with the Colorado Avalanche on Friday, then said he's "very near" to making a decision on whether he can return to the NHL.
CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Peter Forsberg sounded upbeat following a one-hour practice Friday with the Colorado Avalanche, saying he is "very near" to deciding on whether he believes he can make a successful return to the NHL after a nearly three-year absence.

"It's starting to feel better, actually," he said at the South Suburban Family Sports Center. "Compared to Wednesday, it's getting better. We're near a decision; we're very near a decision. Not yet, but we'll see soon. It's been great to get in at least a couple of practices. I'm feeling better, so we'll see how it goes the next couple days here.

"I'm more up today, but if I can play or not, I don't know yet."

Forsberg, 37, was discouraged after Wednesday's workout, when he looked weary at times and spent moments on the bench fiddling with his skates and a right foot that has troubled him for several years.

It didn't help that Forsberg, who doesn't have a contract, skated by himself during the four-day break for the NHL All-Star Game, and for two days while the Avalanche was in St. Louis, where Tuesday's game against the Blues was postponed because of severe weather conditions.

 
"Wednesday was not a good practice, but I had six days by myself," he said. "It was like starting over again when the guys came back. What can I say? We'll see here in the next couple of days how close. I'm feeling better, though."

Avalanche center Matt Duchene was given Friday off for a "maintenance day," so Forsberg skated on a line between Chris Stewart and Milan Hejduk. He also did some battle drills with David Jones, who missed Thursday's game against Minnesota because of a shoulder injury but is expected to play Saturday afternoon against Anaheim at the Pepsi Center.

"I hope I can play against a hurt guy," Forsberg said, smiling. "He looked good, actually. It was more for Jonesy's sake to see how his shoulder was, so they threw me in there. But it's great to get those kinds of things for me, to practice battles. I haven't done that so much lately. I don't know I looked. I guess I'll have to watch the TV (news) tonight to see how it looked."

But Forsberg, who said he would skate at 7:30 a.m. MST Saturday at the Pepsi Center, seemed pleased with his ability to keep up with the high-speed pace in practice.

"It's getting better now," he said. "When I first got here it was really quick. It feels like I'm getting into the pace. I just have to see if I'm good enough."

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco has detected considerable progress since Forsberg's initial full practice with the team on Jan. 23.

"I've seen a gradual improvement every time he's stepped on the ice," Sacco said.  "I think he's looked good each day, and each day he's looked a little bit better. He'll make the decision, the right decision, at the appropriate time. From what I've seen of Peter in the last few days of practice, I like what I've seen."

Forsberg likely will have to make a decision this weekend. The Avalanche is tentatively scheduled to practice Sunday morning before departing for Phoenix to begin a week-long, four-game road trip.

"Of course you want to be out there and be on the ice and helping the team," he said. "If you don't feel that way, you have something wrong. I've wanted to play for a long, long time and it's painful to watch a game, especially if (the Avalanche is losing). You want to be on the ice and help. I'd like to be out there as soon as I can, if it's good enough."

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