Hockey Hall of Fame forward Peter Forsberg was one of five players who won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in both 1996 and 2001, so it was no surprise that the Swedish player was one of the 12 forwards named to the fan-selected Avs 20th Anniversary Team last year.
The Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, native was selected in the first round (sixth overall) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, but his first action in the league came in a Quebec Nordiques sweater after he was acquired by the franchise in June 1992 as part of the Eric Lindros trade.
The 1994-95 campaign marked Forsberg’s rookie year in the league, and he registered 50 points (15 goals, 35 assists) in 47 contests for the Nordiques during the lockout-shortened season. His success during his first year in the NHL earned him the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
Just one year later, Forsberg tallied a career-best 116 points (30 goals, 86 assists) in 82 contests during the Avalanche’s inaugural season in Denver. He went on to record 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists), a plus-10 rating and one game-winning goal in 22 playoff contests and played a key role in Colorado winning the 1996 Stanley Cup.
Forsberg was also a big part of the 2001 Stanley Cup championship team. He played 73 contests during the regular season and tallied 89 points (27 goals, 62 assists), 12 power-play goals and registered a plus-23 rating. Forsberg only skated in 11 postseason contests because he needed to have surgery to remove his spleen, but he was still able to find the back of the net four times while also adding 10 helpers in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
"Foppa" missed all of the following season, but he returned for the playoffs and recorded 27 points (nine goals and 18 assists) in 20 games. In 2002-03, Forsberg skated in 75 contests and led the league with 106 points (29 goals, 77 assists) to earn the Art Ross Trophy (scoring title) and Hart Trophy (regular season MVP).
However, he started to have problems with his foot and had to have multiple surgeries. He went on to play for his hometown team in Sweden, MODO, the Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators and had a brief stint with the Avalanche in spring 2008.
Despite the lingering injury, he was not ready to say goodbye to the sport quite yet. On Feb. 6, 2011, Forsberg was signed by Colorado as a free agent. He only played in two contests that campaign before officially announcing his retirement, but those two games meant a lot to the Swede.
“After using, I don’t know, 500 pairs of skates, 1,500 sticks, and having over 20 surgeries, I still had the desire to play at the highest level,” Forsberg said during his jersey retirement ceremony in 2011. “I strongly believe I owed it to myself to try one more time. I want to thank the Avalanche organization for giving me this opportunity because I sincerely wanted to play in front of [the fans] again.”
Forsberg ranks sixth in Avalanche franchise history in goals (217), fifth in game-winning goals (38) and points (755), third in assists (538) and second in short-handed goals (15).
To honor the Swede, the Avalanche retired his No. 21 jersey on Oct. 8, 2011. Forsberg’s sweater was the fourth to be hoisted to the rafters of Pepsi Center at the time, joining Joe Sakic (No. 19), Patrick Roy (No. 33) and Ray Bourque (No. 77).
Throughout his NHL career, Forsberg was selected to seven All-Star Games (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003) and earned First All-Star Team honors three times (1997-98, 1998-99 and 2002-03).
In addition to his time in the NHL, he represented his country at four Olympics and five World Championships, capturing Olympic gold in 1994 and 2006 and winning titles at Worlds in 1992 and 1998. Forsberg became one of the youngest members to join the Triple Gold Club after winning the 1996 Stanley Cup and is the only Swede to have won all three competitions twice.
“There have been some amazing highlights for me,” said Forsberg at his jersey retirement ceremony. “Winning the two Olympic gold medals, two world championships, and of course winning the two Stanley Cups.”
He is eighth all-time in NHL history in points per game (1.25), fourth in assists per game (.898) and 10th in points per game in the postseason (1.132), tallying 171 (64 goals, 107 assists) in 151 Stanley Cup playoff contests.
In November 2014, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with former Colorado teammate Rob Blake. They became the fifth and sixth former Avalanche players to be inducted, joining Jari Kurri (class of 2001), Bourque (class of 2004), Roy (class of 2006) and Sakic (class of 2012). All six made it in their first year of eligibility.
“I was so fortunate to play in the city of Denver and with people that love to win,” the two-time Stanley Cup champion said during his hall of fame induction speech. “I played with the guys of Sakic, Roy, Blake, Bourque, [Milan] Hejduk, [Alex] Tanguay, [Adam] Foote, [Adam] Deadmarsh, [Valeri] Kamensky, the list goes on and on. I was so fortunate to be there for so many years with a good team.”
He laced up his skates one more time with his former teammates, as he was on the Avalanche squad that defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the Alumni Game prior to the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series on Feb. 26 at Coors Field.