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Forsberg nearing decision on comeback with Avs

by Rick Sadowski /
CENTENNIAL, Colo. –- Sounding a bit discouraged following his third full practice with the Colorado Avalanche, Peter Forsberg said Wednesday he expects to make a decision "in the near future" regarding his latest comeback attempt.

"If I had to make a decision today, it wouldn't be that positive," he said at the South Suburban Family Sports Center.

Forsberg, 37, skated before and after taking part in the practice session, which lasted about an hour. He's had problems with his right foot and ankle, among other ailments, for the past several years; on Wednesday, he spent moments on the bench fiddling with his skate while conversing with team trainers.

"It's what it's always been, but like I said, I'm not going to be specific how it's feeling," he said of his foot. "I'm just going to keep on working here to see how close I can get. I want to play, but I don't want to play badly. I love to play, so I just have to see if I get to play or not."

Forsberg had to skate and work out by himself in the Denver area during the four-day NHL All-Star break and again on Monday and Tuesday when the Avalanche was in St. Louis for a game that eventually was postponed because of severe weather conditions.

"The reason I came here was to practice with the guys, so it was kind of bad timing, but I thought I had to come over," he said. "Today was a good practice. On the other hand, it was my third practice with the team. The decision will be in the near future. So I'm just going to keep on skating for the next couple of days and make a decision very quick.

"I've been skating by myself and working out by myself. I wasn't allowed to do anything with the team, so I had to go and find ice around town and go skate. It's mentally (hard) to go skate and baggage skate for an hour, but I had to do it. The guys had four days off and I've been having seven years off, so I was OK working out for those four days."

Forsberg, who has said his foot and ankle have been problematic for seven years, hasn't played in the NHL since the 2008 playoffs with the Avalanche. He arrived from Sweden on Jan. 21 without a contract and has participated in three full practices and three morning skates after an initial on-ice session with injured center Ryan O'Reilly and assistant coach Steve Konowalchuk.

The Avalanche play Minnesota at the Pepsi Center on Thursday night, and Forsberg is scheduled to take part in the morning skate but won't be available for interviews because it is a game day.

"I'm just going to keep on working," he said. "It's hard to make a decision with three practices. I just got to keep on working. That's what's coming up in the next couple of days. I'll just keep on skating."

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said it was a "good sign" that Forsberg made it through the practice session, which was longer than usual at this stage of the season because the team was limited to a morning skate on Tuesday in St. Louis.

"I thought he worked extremely hard out there," Sacco said. "When you work hard, no matter what kind of shape you're in, especially in a practice like that, you're going to get a little tired. He can tell you better where he's at as far as how he feels, but I thought he worked hard. I thought he looked good today."

Forsberg said the pace of the practice was "quick," and he bent over a few times after whistles stopped play, seemingly to catch his breath. Forsberg hadn't had a full practice with the team since Jan. 25, the day before the Avalanche played Phoenix prior to the All-Star break.

 "Today was the first 5-on-5, and it goes pretty quick," Forsberg said. "You can ask any athlete you get out there with. The professionals, the real guys that have been skating and practicing for the whole year, yes, it goes fast. I just have to keep on skating and hopefully get into it and see how close I can get and if I'm able to play with these guys.

"It's his first time on the ice since I don't know when. It's a good sign. There's obviously no timetable at all set for his return, but he's certainly making progress; he's heading in the right direction." -- Colorado coach Joe Sacco

"Skating by yourself for six days, it gets you a little conditioning, but it doesn't really give you the tempo you need to play with these guys, so I have to get in some more real practices. I'd like to make the decision as soon as I possibly can, so it wouldn't be too far away."

Forsberg was asked if he thinks he's ready to play in an NHL game.

"It's what I'm hoping for," he said. "It's a big question, I guess. If I knew that, I'd say yes or no. I don't want to make a stupid decision. I've been coming back way too many times that haven't really worked out."

A decision might be needed by the end of this week. The Avalanche complete a two-game homestand Saturday against Anaheim before embarking on a week-long, four-game road trip. Forsberg couldn't accompany the team on the trip without a contract.

The Avs did get some encouraging news Wednesday when forward Peter Mueller skated before practice -- his first on-ice workout since he suffered a concussion in a Sept. 18 preseason game.

"It's a good thing, absolutely," Sacco said. "It's his first time on the ice since I don't know when. It's a good sign. There's obviously no timetable at all set for his return, but he's certainly making progress; he's heading in the right direction."

Left wing David Jones, listed as "out indefinitely" with a shoulder injury, skated with Mueller and shot some pucks into an empty net.

"He just wanted to test it out," Sacco said. "It was encouraging that he was on the ice."

O'Reilly also practiced, but Sacco said he is "questionable" for Wednesday's game with Minnesota. O'Reilly has missed five games with a shoulder injury.
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