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Forsberg Ready to Face Old Mates

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

Voorhees, NJ – If there is any nervousness within Peter Forsberg, as the Flyers' center prepares to face the team with which he spent the first 10 NHL seasons of his career, he is certainly not letting it show.

"As soon as you get [I] get out there, it won't be a big deal," said Forsberg, as he and the Flyers will face the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday afternoon at the Wachovia Center (2:00 p.m., NBC). "I won't care. I played against friends or various teammates. It's a little special because you know most of the guys that you played with over the years, but it's the same for everybody."

Forsberg left the organization of his own will, deciding to sign with Philadelphia after the Avalanche could no longer afford his services in the "new" NHL. Although his signing with the Flyers shocked the hockey world, it is something that Forsberg saw coming even shortly after the conclusion of the 2003-04 season.

"When I left and went home to Sweden, there was talk about salary caps and I knew it was going to be tight because they had a high salary already, so I was kind of prepared to leave," he said. "I got to go to a great place and a good team so I'm not feeling bad or anything, and I had a good time in Colorado. It was a good organization and a good team."

It was a good run for Forsberg as well, as he won two Stanley Cups in Colorado in 1996 and 2001 and was a five-time NHL All-Star (1996, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2003). He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1995, as well as the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP in 2003.

Despite all of those achievements, he prefers to look ahead rather than behind.

"I don't have any regrets with what happened. I feel great right now coming here with the Flyers so I don't feel any regrets," he said. "I'm not looking back; I'm looking forward to what I can do here. I'm not looking back at what I should have done, or what happened over there. It happened and I just move on."

Esche Still Not Ready

Flyers goaltender Robert Esche is still nursing a groin injury and has not yet rejoined the team. Because his position is so vulnerable to these types of injuries, he wants to make sure that he is completely healthy when he finally does get back to playing. Esche originally tried to return to the lineup on December 15, but ended up re-aggravating the injury.

"It's one of those things where you can't afford to come back, where in the past I probably would have come back two weeks ago," said Esche. "The truth of the matter is it's still there and I still feel it, so I want to make sure when I come back I'm 100 percent healthy."

The play of rookie Antero Niittymaki has certainly helped the situation. Niittymaki has started the last 14 games for the Flyers, leading them to a 10-2-2 record over that span. Esche expects that the starting spot will not be handed over to him upon his return.

"I'd be naïve to sit here and say as soon as I get back, Hitch is going to hand me the reigns," he said. "I mean, you've got a young kid that is roughly the same age as me that is playing great hockey. When I do come back, I want to make sure that I don't get in the way and we roll on right through to the playoffs.

"The way things are going right now there's no real pressure to try and rush into anything right now, so I'm going to continue to work hard and get back as soon as I can."
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