TORONTO - At a Hockey Hall of Fame fan forum Saturday, the 2014 inductees took turn playfully jabbing each other like many of them did on the ice during their careers.
Peter Forsberg was on the receiving end of much of that, mostly for what he was able to get away with on the ice.
"Skilled, talented, nasty, dirty," Mike Modano said. "If he wanted to mean, dirty, nasty, he could do that or if he wanted to kill you one-on-one, score a great goal ? he could do that, too."
Referee Bill McCreary called Forsberg an "all-around player, cheap, dirty." He and his colleagues had to have eyes in the back of their head to see what Forsberg would do.
Sometimes McCreary didn't know whether to penalize Forsberg for his patented reverse check in the corner.
"He would go into the corner first after the puck, he was never afraid to be there first, and he would thrust his body back into the person who was going to check him and knock him down and he'd take off with the puck," McCreary said. "It was always a tough judgement to make whether it was interference or not because the player that was competing for the puck never had an opportunity because he was laying on his backside."
Goaltender Dominik Hasek's unique ability to drop his stick and pick up the puck with his blocker hand earned its share of attention. When the moderator of the panel asked if Hasek ever threw his stick at the puck, "The Dominator" shook his head.
"Tell the truth," McCreary responded.
Hasek said he owed McCreary a thank you for being on the ice when he won the 1998 Olympic gold medal and two Stanley Cups. The other players on the panel were generally complimentary toward the longtime official but Forsberg got his shots in.
"I don't think I was famous about liking the referees," Forsberg said. "I think we had a couple conversations out there. They were all good: 'That was a great call. That was awesome.'"
Pat Burns's widow, Line, represented him as she is doing all weekend. Burns has been admired for his coaching plenty, but he did have a reputation for being tough on his players.
"A teammate back home in Sweden who played under Pat," Forsberg recalled. "He was telling me about Pat that he got benched in practice. I don't know how you can be benched in practice."
Modano, a first overall pick who played 21 years in the NHL, wasn't nearly as dirty as Forsberg. Maybe he just wasn't hateable.
"I'd like to say something bad about him," Forsberg said. "I'd like to come up with a bad story about him. It's hard. It's only good things. Obviously he was an unbelievable player."
The only bad thing Forsberg could say about Rob Blake was that he didn't want to get in front of his shot, even when they were teammates on the Colorado Avalanche. For a while, the defenceman played for the Los Angeles Kings, and Forsberg quipped, "At first, I didn't like Rob Blake."
For all the jokes at Forsberg's expense, "Foppa" had the last laugh when talking about the two Olympic gold medals, two world championship gold medals and two Stanley Cups he won. When a fan asked which championship meant the most, Forsberg grinned.
"It's hard," he said, pausing. "There's so many."
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