(Pittsburgh, PA, October 5, 2006) – Despite the fact he is entering his 12th NHL season, there is still something about opening night for the Flyers' Peter Forsberg.
"Opening night is special and you get a little nervous," said Forsberg after the Flyers' optional morning skate in Pittsburgh. The team opens its 40th season at Mellon Arena on Thursday night (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
"You haven't played for four or five months, so it's kind of a measuring point to see how hard you've been working in the summer," he said. "Every point is going to count, and it doesn't matter if it's the first game of the year or the last game of the year. It's going to be a tight league this year and we have to grab every point we can get."
Forsberg will be wearing the captain's "C" on his jersey for the first time in a regular season game in his career. He becomes the first European-born captain in franchise history.
Forsberg took part in the skate on Thursday morning, as did most of the team. Among the notable players that did not included Simon Gagne, Mike Knuble and starting goaltender Robert Esche.Flyers Comment on Penguins' Purchase Agreement
The town of Pittsburgh is abuzz not just because of opening night, but also the news that came down late on Wednesday regarding the purchase agreement of the club to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie.
It was also reported that Balsillie's plans are to keep the team in Pittsburgh and to get a new arena for the team. Mellon Arena is currently the oldest building in the NHL.
That is good news for the Flyers' R.J. Umberger, who grew up watching Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr
and the rest of the Penguins teams that won two Stanley Cups in the early 1990's. Umberger is from Pittsburgh.
"It's good news for the city as long as they get the new building and get to stay here," said Umberger. "It's a first step, and they have a lot of good players so hopefully they can turn it around and be a competitive team again.
"Back around the time in the 80's and early 90's when Mario started to come into his own and the team came into its own with all of those good players, it got a lot of [young] players involved too, like myself. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for that."
Petr Nedved spent two seasons as a Penguin, from 1995-97, and echoed Umberger's sentiments.
"I played here for a couple years and it was a great town to play for," said Nedved. "Any time that you see a team leaving it's sad for the fans and sad for the players, so hopefully they can get the new building going and stay here."