Just two games into his latest comeback with the Colorado Avalanche
, Peter Forsberg
has announced his retirement from the NHL at a press conference Monday afternoon.
"The time has finally come that I'm going to retire from the game of ice hockey," Forsberg said. "I won't be able to second guess myself. I really tried and I tried and I tried. I'm really sure about my decision this time.
"After this past weekend I came to the sad conclusion that I was going to have to retire. It was not an easy decision. Believe me, the process I went through was even tougher. Throughout my career I had 25 surgeries and I promised my fiancée Nicole that I would not put my health at risk anymore."
Forsberg, 37, was a minus-2 with one shot in 17:38 of ice time Friday against Columbus, and was a minus-2 with two shots and four penalty minutes in 17:32 of ice time Saturday against Nashville.
The two games he played were his first in the NHL since the end of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In both contests, he skated as a left wing alongside Matt Duchene
and Milan Hejduk
Forsberg's short departure came as a surprise to teammates.
"I thought he looked great," said Avs captain Adam Foote
. "I thought he had the highest compete level on the ice in Columbus, for both teams."
Foote, who was a teammate with Forsberg when the Avs won Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, said he and Forsberg talked on the flight home from Nashville and never got a feeling that Forsberg was considering hanging up his skates for good.
"I thought the two games went well for him. I know the second night probably didn't go as well as the first game, but back-to-back games, that's a tough situation for him. I couldn't (see if he was in pain). He played hard every time he stepped on the ice. Every shift he gave it his all." -- Avs coach Joe Sacco
"We talked on the plane a lot on the way home after the back to back, had a long chat," he said. "That's why I'm surprised. He didn't give me an inkling that there was a problem."
Forsberg leaves the NHL with 885 points in 708 games in a career that spanned 13 seasons, starting in 1994-95 with the Quebec Nordiques. Forsberg moved to Colorado with the team and the next season had a career-best 116 points while playing all 82 games for the only time in his career.
He also played for the Philadelphia Flyers
and Nashville Predators
. However, his career was limited by injuries, most notably to his right foot and ankle. Since the labor issues that led to the cancellation of the 2004-05 season, he's played as many as 60 games in a season once.
His last attempt at an NHL comeback was at the end of the 2007-08 season, when he had 14 points in nine regular-season games with the Avs, and another 5 points in seven playoff games.
Forsberg started this latest comeback attempt skating with the Avs on Jan. 22, and he signed a contract for the rest of the season on Feb. 6.
The hope was Forsberg's presence and skill could help right the fortunes of a young team that enters tonight's game against the Calgary Flames
losers of seven straight and 14th in the Western Conference, nine points out of a playoff spot.
"Not only did he owe it to himself to find out if he could play, it was a situation where how could we say no to that," said Avs coach Joe Sacco. "We had nothing to lose. It was an opportunity to get one of the most well-known players in this organization, a future Hall of Famer, and give him a chance to get back to his game. For me, it was a no-brainer. I don't have any regrets, and I don't think Peter has any, either."
Sacco said he was as surprised as everyone else to hear the news today.
"I thought the two games went well for him," he said. "I know the second night probably didn't go as well as the first game, but back-to-back games, that's a tough situation for him.
"I couldn't (see if he was in pain). He played hard every time he stepped on the ice. Every shift he gave it his all."
, who played his on a line with Forsberg, said he'll take the two games and four weeks of practice as a learning experience for his burgeoning career.
"For me, I modeled almost my entire game after him growing up," he said. "It was cool playing alongside him, picking up things he did. It was just a privilege getting to play with him."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @NHLAdamK