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Forsberg Leaves Behind Lasting Memories

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Almost as swiftly as he returned, he was gone again.

Statements On Peter Forsberg

NHL Commissioner
Gary Bettman

"Peter Forsberg is a fierce competitor, a champion, a global star who has been completely committed to our game.  We will miss seeing him on the ice."

Avalanche Owner
Mr. E. Stanley Kroenke

“Peter Forsberg’s career speaks for itself.  He excelled at every level.  Winning the Stanley Cup in 2001 was an extraordinary accomplishment for Peter and the entire franchise, one we will always cherish.  It was a privilege for me and all Colorado Avalanche fans to watch Peter perform at such an elite level for so many great seasons. He always represented our organization in a first-class manner, and we are certain he will have continued success off the ice.”

Avalanche President
Pierre Lacroix

“Peter Forsberg was one of the elite players of his generation. His numerous skills, along with his second-to-none tenacity, made him very special.  We were honored to have him wear the Avalanche sweater and we look forward to watching his #21 go to the rafters.”

Joe Sakic
“I was very fortunate to play with one of the best players to ever play the game.  His vision, strength on the puck and all he brought to the team was truly something we were all amazed with. Obviously the game is going to miss him but on the other hand it was great to see him come back with the Avalanche and finish off his career here.”

Patrick Roy
“Peter Forsberg’s skills and determination made him one of the most powerful forwards in the NHL during the best years of his career.  Hearing of his retirement is sad news but one day every athlete has to come to this decision.  He should be very proud of all he accomplished throughout his career.”

Nicklas Lidstrom
"Peter has had a tremendous career. He's been a world class player, one of the superstars of the NHL. I've had the pleasure of playing with him on national teams and the gold-medal-winning Olympic team in Torino. It's sad to see him retire, but he wanted to go out on his own terms and I believe he's doing that. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors."
Avalanche forward Peter Forsberg announced his retirement this afternoon during a press conference held at Pepsi Center, officially closing out a storied career that was shortened by a string of injuries to his foot.

Seated next to his fiancée, Nicole Nordin, Forsberg formally declared to those in attendance that his time in the game of hockey had come to an end – a career that included two Stanley Cup championships, a Hart Trophy, one Art Ross Trophy, a Calder Trophy, three appearances on the NHL’s First All-Star Team, seven All-Star Game selections and approximately 25 surgeries.

“The time has finally come. I’m here today to announce that I’m retiring from the game of ice hockey,” Forsberg began. “One thing is for sure. I won’t be able to second-guess myself. I really tried, and I tried and I tried. And I’m really sure about my decision this time.”

Forsberg began skating in Sweden six weeks ago and said he felt better than he had in a long time. As such, he felt he owed it to himself to give the NHL one more shot. He then had his agent, Don Baizley, reach out to the Avalanche to see if an opportunity existed to skate with the team in order to find out where he was at physically.

Just a few days later – Jan. 22, to be exact – Forsberg began skating with Avalanche players during a morning skate session prior to Colorado’s contest against the Boston Bruins. From there, he began to practice with the team, both in full-contact practices and morning skates, before eventually signing a contract for the remainder of the 2010-11 season on Feb. 6.

However, the comeback attempt was short-lived. After finishing up immigration paperwork that kept him out of games against the Phoenix Coyotes (Feb. 7) and Minnesota Wild (Feb. 9), he made his return to the NHL on Feb. 11 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Forsberg played 17:38 during that contest against the Blue Jackets, and afterward, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco commented that the Swede was “arguably our best player” in his return.

Forsberg surprised some by also suiting up the next night against the Nashville Predators, playing back-to-back games after nearly three years away from the NHL. He skated for 17:32 on that night, but little did anyone know at the time that it would be his last appearance in an Avalanche uniform.

“After this past weekend, I came to the sad conclusion that I was going to have to retire,” said Forsberg. “It was not an easy decision.”

In the end, the 37-year-old didn’t want to put his health at risk any further. He’s been experiencing troubles with his foot since 2003, the season he won the Hart Trophy.

“I wish I could describe what’s really wrong with the foot,” said Forsberg. “The weird thing is that I was having the best season of my career and then finally in the playoffs it just didn’t work. Something collapsed or something happened. I don’t really know what happened actually. There was kind of a two-week period there where it didn’t work anymore.”

Since he started experiencing problems with the foot, no two days have been the same. Forsberg claims the foot doesn’t bother him on a day-to-day basis and doesn’t hurt a lot, but also doesn’t fit into his skate properly. He’s had to tape his brace heavily just to keep it in place when he takes the ice.

“It’s very disappointing I couldn’t play again,” said Forsberg. “I really wanted to come back, play the last 30 games here, have a good time and maybe help the team get to the playoffs.

“Sometimes I think I was lucky I got to play with this without the problem until I was 30 at least. It could have came earlier, so I was lucky in that way. But yeah, I feel like maybe a little kid who had his candy stolen from him,” said Forsberg. “It feels a little sad that I have to retire without going in my own way.”

But in the end, Forsberg was at the mercy of his health, and knew the time was right to hang up the skates for good. All he hopes, as he steps away from the game he loves, is that people remember the effort he gave each and every night.

“I started thinking about that maybe a little last night. I hope people here in Denver remember like…” Forsberg said, before choking up and pausing. “I don’t care really if they thought I was good enough or good that game or something. I just wished they walked out of the rink and say he gave everything.”

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