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Forsberg credits brother for competitive spirit

by Shawn Roarke

TORONTO -- Peter Forsberg loves the game of hockey so much, it was hard to put an exclamation point to his career by accepting his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.

During his speech, Forsberg talked about the wear and tear put on his body by the style of hockey he favored, a style that fellow Swede Mats Sundin described as having the heart of a warrior and the hands of Wayne Gretzky. He said he has undergone 21 surgeries since he started playing hockey.

"I'd take 21 more surgeries to keep on playing," Forsberg said. "I love the game so much."

His love of the game came early. In his speech, he recalled chasing his older brother, Roger, out the door when he was on his way to practice. He dressed himself and raced to the car, forcing his dad to allow him to tag along.

"That was my first practice," he said.

He said he learned a lot from Roger, who was two years older and just as competitive.

"He hated to lose even more than me," Forsberg said. "There weren't too many tables that survived Peter losing a card game."

The competition he learned at home laid the foundation to a great hockey career, a career that led him eventually to two Stanley Cup championships and two Olympic gold medals and, finally, his place as the third Swede to enter the Hall, following Borje Salming and Sundin, who presented Forsberg with his plaque.

"I'm proud to be third Swede inducted," Forsberg said. "They were my idols."

Forsberg said Monday that he was thrilled that Sundin could present him his plaque.

"He was my hero for a while," Forsberg said. "That is until I got to run him over."

But the struggles he had late in his career because of injuries, including a foot issue that cropped up several times, dominated much of the conversation Monday.

"I wish there were 20 good years, instead of 12," Forsberg said.

But the memories he was able to create while at the top of his game are enough to ease the pain on most days.

"It's been an honor and privilege to play this game and it is an even bigger honor and privilege to get in the Hall of Fame," he said.

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