(Voorhees, NJ, January 29) – Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren on Monday met with center Peter Forsberg following a team meeting at the Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone. Below are excerpts from their media availability following the meeting.
How did the meeting go? Holmgren: "It was good to sit down and talk some things out. Peter's skate/foot issues are still front and center for him and that sort of keeps everything else on hold. We are working on trying to resolve the problems he is having and it's an ongoing thing. We feel like we are making some headway and until we get to the point where Peter feels very comfortableâ€¦I think what we resolved today was that there is no sense in talking about anything down the road until we can get to the point where he feels comfortable in his skate."
Does this have to be before the [trade] deadline? Holmgren: "I think we will know in a fairly short period of time. It's January 29 today, the trade deadline is February 27, so there is still some time. Peter is a proud man and obviously a tremendous hockey player and his main responsibility is to the Philadelphia Flyers. He wants to help our team get better and win hockey games here down the stretch. If he has a chance at some point if he is feeling better to go to a team and maybe help a team win, he may want to do that, but right now there is no sense in talking about that. I think to throw that question at Peter todayâ€¦I think he would need to feel better about his own situation."
How frustrating is this? Holmgren: "I guess my immediate response to that is, what are we going to do? Peter is our player and we are trying to work with him and make things better so he can help us right now. He is willing to play through it and continue to try and work on his issues. If February 28 comes along and Peter is still a Flyer, then so be it."
Did he indicate if his foot feels better before the deadline that he would be willing to accept a trade? Holmgren: "We never even really got that point because of what he is going through. He is very frustrated that the situation hasn't gotten better and it's not as good as it can be. As I said earlier we have made some strides. It's still not perfect and he does not feel like he is the player he can be. He's Peter Forsberg and he has been a tremendous player for a number of years and I really cannot relate to it. I see him doing some good things to help us but he is frustrated. He is the reason why we are where we are at. He is very hard on himself. Right now he wants to get these things resolved so he can help us.
"He is hard on himself. I see him out there trying. He is working hard and he still does those little things to help us. Maybe he's not Peter Forsberg in his prime but he is still a great player and he can still do a lot of things to help win a hockey game."
Are you going to take him off the (trading) table? Holmgren: "He has never been on the table. Teams just called and the basic conversation goes something along the line of "if you ever get to that point where you are going to move Peter Forsberg we would have interest.'
"I've said all along if he stays here we are willing to roll the dice and get something done prior to next year with him."
Is there any chance his frustration will lead to his retirement? Holmgren: "I guess there is a chance for that. I don't think Peter wants that. He is a thoroughbred, an artist, and if his equipment is not up to par where he can perform to the level where he wants to perform at, he feels like he is letting himself down and people down. So I guess it may get to that point, I don't know, I think that is a ways off because he still has some fight left in him.
"I've always been a glass half full guy and I told Peter today we will continue to do everything we can until he walks in and says, 'Ok, I have had enough.' And that is how we are going to approach it."
How did the talks go? Forsberg: "I think it went good. We didn't really get a whole lot of things done. But we said we have to figure out the foot before we talk about anything else and that is what the focus is on."
Do you think your foot will get better? Forsberg: "I definitely hope so. I have been thinking all along it's going to get resolved and that is what I have to hope and believe in otherwise I don't think I would be here today if I thought there was no solution in sight. I think it would be hard to go out there and play. But, I think there is a solution out and there and I just think we have to keep working on it and hopefully one day we will find it."
Talk about your frustration with your foot issue. Forsberg: "I have been frustrated all year. And lately, I think you can see that I am frustrated. I am yelling that the refs. Overall, I am doing the things I should be doing out there and it has been wearing lately. But, I think it was a good meeting today. We got to clear the air a little bit because there have been a lot of rumors (about) me going everywhere and it's been hard. I would like to try to focus on playing with the Flyers. I know I have been brutal on the ice and I know I can do so much more and that is why I think it is so frustrating to be out there. I know I can do better but I just cannot perform at the level that I have always performed."
You are still doing things to help the team. Forsberg: "I'm trying to go out there and do those things but then [I] get into a battle and fall down when [I am] not supposed to fall down. I know where I should be playing at so I don't think I've been hard on myself. It's just being realistic."
Is this the final straw, so to speak? Forsberg: "I don't think so. Everybody is looking at the trading deadline and talking about that. So far it is out of the question right now, my wish was to be a Flyer and I wanted to play here. Our goal in the beginning of the year was to try and get the foot fixed and sign for how ever many years. Right we will see what happens, but I will do everything I can to help the Flyers and right now it is just being on the ice playing."