Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers



Hockey Hall of Fame center Peter Forsberg, who drafted by the Flyers and, many years later, spent most of two seasons with the team, was born on July 20, 1973 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. Although the Swedish center will always be primarily associated with the Colorado Avalanche, the Philadelphia Flyers played a major role in Forsberg's story at two crucial junctures of his career.

One of the predominant playmakers of his generation, Forsberg was also a complete player. He brought a steely will to win, killer instinct, two-way smarts and played a physical brand of hockey. 

For his NHL career, Forsberg racked up 885 points (249 goals, 636 assists) in just 708 regular season games, along with 690 penalty minutes. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, "Foppa" produced 171 points (64 goals, 107 assists) 151 games, along with 163 penalty minutes. As a Flyer, he played an even 100 regular season games (30 goals, 85 assists, 115 points) and six playoff games (four goals, four assists, eight points).

Forsberg's career was so brilliant that it is easily forget that the Flyers saw something truly special in Forsberg a full year before the rest of the NHL. Philadelphia selected him sixth overall in the 1991 NHL Draft; very much an "off the board" selection at the time.

In the months leading up to the 1991 NHL Draft, the rest of the NHL and draft pundits had Forsberg pegged as a solid-but-unspectacular prospect, the Flyers - especially scout Inge Hammarstrom - saw Forsberg as a potential franchise player.

The Hockey News, which bases its Draft Preview rankings on discussions with a cross-section of scouts from around the NHL, had Forsberg rated 25th overall. He was ranked one spot behind Mike Pomichter. In the 1991 Draft Preview Issue, TNH described Forsberg as "solid second rounder who could sneak into the first round." A scout told the publication, "I'd compare him to Tomas Steen in terms of style, though I don't think he'll be as good as Steen."

TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie had a tip that Forsberg was the Flyers' top choice, but few others believed Philly would actually take the player that early in a deep draft.

Flyers general Russ Farwell was not bluffing, although the team also seriously consider defenseman Richard Matvichuk.

The Flyers were criticized by the media for "reaching" to take Forsberg sixth overall. One Philadelphia newspapers called the selection "peculiar" while one of the major Canadian newspapers instantly declared Philadelphia "the day's biggest loser" for picking someone "who probably could have been had by trading down 20 or more spots."

Revisionist history later had it that the Flyers didn't know what they were giving up the next year when the team included Forsberg in the massive trade package it took to acquire Eric Lindros' rights from Quebec one year after the immensely gifted center refused to sign with the team that took him first overall in the 1991 Draft.

The reality: The Flyers, and most of the NHL, understood full well by 1992 Forsberg was on a path to becoming a special NHL player in the years to come. By that point, his star was on the rapid rise internationally and most every NHL club realized the Swedish teenager was eventually going to be an impact player in the NHL. 

However, the Flyers also knew they would have to wait at least one more year (two as it turned out) for Forsberg to leave Sweden to play in the NHL. The player himself felt he needed more time. With the club having missed the playoffs three straight year, the organization wanted to take bold action to start improving sooner rather than later.

Very reluctantly, the Flyers included Forsberg's rights in the final trade package with Quebec.

The Flyers had no choice but to include Forsberg because Farwell let the Nordiques know that both Mark Recchi and Rod Brind'Amour were untouchable in any trade discussion for Lindros unless they were more or less the only pieces of top value. In order to make the trade offer sufficiently enticing to Quebec, the Flyers had to make Forsberg available for trade after offers that did not include his rights were unable to secure agreement from the Nords.

The Nordiques, retroactively credited by many for their foresight in "lifting" Forberg away from the Flyers, actually would not have gotten the player at all given their druthers. The Nordiques traded Lindros' rights twice on the same day (June 20, 1992): first making a handshake deal with the Flyers and then changing their minds after the fact and trading Lindros' right to the New York Rangers. It took arbitration hearings and a ruling in favor of the Flyers by arbitrator Larry Bertuzzi on June 30, 1992 to resolve the dispute. 

The Flyers traded NHL roster players Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Steve Duchesne and Kerry Huffman, prospects Forsberg and Chris Simon, first-round picks in 1993 (goaltender Jocelyn Thibault) and 1994 (traded to Washington, defenseman Nolan Baumgartner) and sent $15 million cash to Quebec. Had the Rangers trade been approved instead, the Nordiques would have received a similarly rich package of players (believed but never officially confirmed to include Alexei Kovalev, Tony Amonte, Doug Weight and goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck), picks and cash.

In short, the Nordiques were bound to benefit any which way. The trade, however, also significantly benefited the Flyers as well as the Nordiques (who relocated to Denver in 1995 and became the Colorado Avalanche). Both Forsberg and Lindros, of course, turned out to Hall of Fame players. Lindros was a vital piece of the nucleus that turned the Flyers from a team than missed the playoffs five straight years to a perennial championship contender and a Cup finalist in 1996-97.

Forsberg, forming a deadly one-two punch with Hall of Fame center Joe Sakic and surrounded by an increasingly deep roster, won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 1994-95; the same year Lindros won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player. Forsberg later won two Stanley Cups with the Avs (1995-96, 2000-01), an Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer in 2002-03 and NHL First-Team All-Star honors three times (1997-98, 1998-99 and 2002-03).

After the NHL's lockout of 2004-05 forced the cancelation of the season, Forsberg became an unrestricted free agent. He signed with the Flyers on August 3, 2005.

Forsberg blasted out of the gates during the 2004-05 season, centering an explosive top line with Simon Gagne on left wing and Mike Knuble on right wing. Forsberg had at least one point in 12 of the season's 13 games (four goals, 24 assists, 28 points). When he was forced out of the lineup with a groin pull during the Flyers' 5-3 win in Boston on November 25, 2005, Forsberg (who had two goals and an assist in the first period of the game and was initially credited with a hat trick) was leading the NHL in scoring with 39 points (eight goals, 31 assists) in 21 games.

However, Forsberg was unable to stay healthy thereafter. A congenital foot problem contributed to a variety of related injuries - groin pulls, core-muscle issues, etc. - and increasingly kept the superstar center out of the lineup. Forsberg, who won a gold medal with Sweden (his second Olympic gold) at the 2006 Olympics, finished the 2005-06 regular season with 75 points (19 goals, 56 assists) in 60 games, along with a plus-21 rating, an average 18:29 of ice time per game, 48 credited hits and 45 credited takeaways.

In the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Buffalo Sabres, Forsberg was far from 100 percent healthy. Nevertheless, he was dominant during the much of the series, especially in stepping up to take over Games Three and Four in Philadelphia as the Flyers erased a two games to zero deficit and knotted the series. Although Forsberg racked up eight points in the series (four goals, four assists), the Sabres prevailed in six games.

Entering the summer of 2006, Forsberg was originally scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery on both of his feet. It was determined, however, that he would only need to have surgery on the right foot to correct deformities because of an abnormal arch that caused him to stretch his ankle tendons. Originally projected to be out until Christmas, Forsberg instead reported for training camp in September. That moth, he was named the 15th captain in Flyers' team history, succeeding the retiring Keith Primeau.

Unfortunately, Forsberg's foot continued to give him frequent trouble throughout the 2006-07 season. Amid what rapidly became the worst season in Flyers' franchise history, Forsberg was able to dress in only 40 games. By most players' standards, he remained an excellent NHL player (11 goals, 29 assists, 40 points). A perfectionist by nature, however, Forsberg was dissatisfied with his body's increasing betrayal of him and heartbroken by the team's struggles, which he blamed on himself.

Due to his foot issues, the impending unrestricted free agent was unwilling to commit to a contract extension with the Flyers. Ultimately, on February 15, 2007, the Flyers traded Forsberg to the Nashville Predators for forward Scottie Upshall, defense prospect Ryan Parent, and the Predators' first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft.

Forsberg chipped in 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in 17 stretch-drive games for Nashville and four points (two goals, two assists) in five playoff games. He then decided to take time off from hockey to try to solve his foot issues. In the meantime, the Flyers and Predators worked out a second trade. The Predators' 2007 first-round pick acquired in the original trade was flipped back to Nashville in exchange for the rights to impending free agents Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, whom the Flyers immediately signed to six-year contracts.

Forsberg would make several comeback attempts but, in second and third stints with the Avalanche, would only go on to play 11 more NHL regular season games and seven playoff games.

He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame's class of 2014. On December 16, 2014, the Flyers held "Peter Forsberg Night" at the Wells Fargo Center to celebrate the player's Hall of Fame legacy and to recognize his greatness during his all-too-brief stint with the team. Forsberg, who dropped the ceremonial opening faceoff, received a standing ovation.