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PREDATORS ACQUIRE FORSBERG

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Dan Hamhuis
Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty
Peter Forsberg has won two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and in 2003 he earned honors as the NHL's most valuable player and scoring champion.

Nashville Predators Executive Vice President/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired forward Peter Forsberg (PEE-tuhr FOHRS-buhrg) from the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent and Nashville's first-round and third-round selections in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

"Peter Forsberg is one of the NHL's most complete players and the ultimate competitor - a consistent winner who has year in and year out been a difference-maker in the Stanley Cup Playoffs," said Poile.  "He strengthens our club up the middle and will provide another battle-tested, veteran voice to our dressing room.  Adding a player of this caliber also sends a strong message to our fans that the Nashville Predators are prepared to compete at the highest level."

Forsberg, 33 (7/20/73), has captured two Stanley Cup championships (1996 and 2001 with Colorado), two Olympic gold medals (1994 and 2006 with Sweden) and he earned the NHL's Hart Trophy (most valuable player) and Art Ross Trophy (scoring champion) in 2003.  The 6-0, 205-pound center has been named to the NHL's First All-Star Team three times (1998, 1999 and 2003), has played in five NHL All-Star Games and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's rookie of the year in 1995.

Forsberg Trade Reaction:
Predators GM David Poile Conference Call  (14:44;
see transcript below)

This season, Forsberg has posted 40 points (11g-29a) in 40 games with Philadelphia.  He has appeared in the post-season in each of his previous 11 seasons, has led the NHL in playoff scoring twice (1999 and 2002) and ranks 17th on the NHL's all-time playoff scoring list with 162 points (61g-101a) in 139 games.  Throughout his career, he has averaged over a point per game in both the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the regular season (246g-610a-856pts in 680 games).

Originally drafted by Philadelphia with the sixth overall selection in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, Forsberg was dealt to Quebec in a package for Eric Lindros on June 30, 1992.  He spent 10 seasons with the Quebec/Colorado franchise, leading the club in assists five times and in points four times, before joining the Flyers as a free agent on August 3, 2005.

Transcript of Predators GM David Poile's Conference Call

KEN ANDERSON: Thank you so much for joining us tonight on this conference call with Nashville Predators' general manager David Poile. He will be available for approximately twenty minutes to discuss the Peter Forsberg trade that was made tonight.

For those of you interested, Peter was available to the Philadelphia media in the second intermission of their game tonight with Toronto. We should have a transcript of that available a little bit later.

Hope to find out more on his availability with regard to his coming to Nashville relatively soon, so please feel free to call we me with that.

DAVID POILE: As far as the Nashville Predators are concerned, when we started this season at training camp, right from day one, we felt that as an organization, coaches, players, ownership, that we had the best team that we ever had and, that we had a legitimate chance for the first time in our history to compete for the Stanley Cup.

It's been a good year for us to this point. Our team has played very well to this point. And when Peter Forsberg became available, it was -- you know, to me he's the ultimate playoff player. His resume, if you will, Stanley Cups, World Championships, Olympic Championships obviously speak for themselves.

This is a great addition to our hockey club. We're a club that has some really good players, but we've only got one player that has won a Stanley Cup, and that's Jason Arnott. This is a huge addition. Peter Forsberg is a Stanley Cup champion.

This is a really huge deal for our franchise. It's certainly, I think, a clear message also to our community that we are aiming to be the best that we can be. We certainly hope that this translates into continued and more fan support in our community.

I have not spoken to Peter Forsberg yet. I have put in a call to him, but as I understand all the dynamics of what has happened here is he was told by the Flyers that he was traded, and they just had the press conference in Philadelphia. So I have not communicated with Peter so I do not know his availability starting this -- we play tomorrow night in St. Louis and we play Friday night at home against Minnesota.

I'm open for questions.

Q. Just want to know, that's four pieces of a puzzle you're giving up for a player. Have you got some assurances from Don Baizley that Peter will sign with you on July 1st?

DAVID POILE: Absolutely not, nor did I ever seek that. I have given up a lot. That is something that was not comfortable to me, nor do I think would ever be comfortable to me. We have built our team through the draft, and we're giving up two draft picks, a first and third pick, and we're giving up two players that were draft picks with the Predators.

So clearly we paid a huge price for this. But as I say that, one of the things that allowed us to be in this position, as a competitive team this year and to make this deal is the fact that the organization and the scouts have done a terrific job for us giving us the depth to allow us to participate in a trade like this today.

And as far as where we are, I mean, I don't know whether the situation is correct if you're calling this a rental player situation. But you go over the history of the league, and there's always significant deals made at the trading deadline. And arguably, has there ever been a better player traded at the trading deadline than Peter Forsberg?

My answer is probably not, and the we paid was very high. We did it because we believed it was a necessary ingredient to give us that much better of a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, and we're comfortable with doing it.

Q. Was this a situation too where you were competing possibly with some of the top rivals in the Western Conference for Peter Forsberg? And I wonder if that perhaps raised the price as well.

DAVID POILE: Well, it's a little bit like a poker game. You know, Paul Holmgren, general manager of the Flyers, he was dealing with I believe several clubs. And maybe in the last 48 hours it was probably -- and maybe less; you have to ask him that -- but I had to do what I felt was necessary to get the deal done. Whether he had comparable bids, I was all by myself, I would find that hard to believe when we're talking about a player like Peter Forsberg.

Again, it's the same answer: We paid a lot. I'm acknowledging that. Philadelphia has made a terrific deal for Forsberg, but we were willing to do it because we had the depth and we felt it gave us that much better of a chance to win a Stanley Cup this year.

Q. How long have you been in this chase in terms of a timeline?

DAVID POILE: Probably the last couple weeks. You know, whenever you heard that Forsberg might be traded or was going to be signed with Philadelphia seemed to come out, that was about the time that I contacted Paul. Basically we've talked every day, more than once or twice, for the last couple of weeks.

Having said that, I mean, as our year started out really well and Philadelphia's year didn't start off so well, in terms of my own preparation with our hockey staff, we certainly, you know, recognize that Forsberg could be a player that might be able at the trading deadline, and there was nobody else on our radar that was anywhere close to how we felt he could -- what impact he could have versus any other player that we could possibly get in the trading deadline market.

Q. You guys already had the second, I believe the second highest scoring team in the league. Can you talk about what the addition of another big offensive mind like Peter Forsberg would do for this team?

DAVID POILE: It would be my hope -- and you can talk about Coach Trotz about this a little bit more -- we've had two lines that have been very prolific this year. On occasion we've had a third line that's jumped in there and done a good job offensively. I would think that with Forsberg we could clearly have three lines that could really bring it offensively. I think this gives us lots of versatility and flexibility. I mean, we never know what's going to happen in terms of good play, bad play, injuries, that type of thing.

But clearly in our top nine forwards, I mean, this is another dimension for the power-play. It's a guy that probably could be our best faceoff guy. Could if need be kill penalties. So it's a huge addition to our hockey club.

Q. Can you talk about what you think the impact of this deal might be in terms of the community in terms of support for this team, which has been sort of a subtext for your fine season?

DAVID POILE: Well, we certainly recognize what's happened in Carolina and Tampa Bay, two teams that have had really good success in the playoffs and ultimately winning the Stanley Cup and what's that's done for their franchise both on and off the ice. Being in the south in a nontraditional market, we need to have some success in the playoffs. From the hockey operations standpoint, the best thing that we can do for our franchise is to win hockey games and do well in the playoffs and hopefully if that happens we'll get more season tickets and more support and our franchise will be more solid than it is today.

Q. As far as Forsberg, he's had problems with the foot this year. Have you kind of reassured yourself that maybe he found what he needed with the visit to the specialist in Sweden?

DAVID POILE: In talking with Paul Holmgren, and I really thought Paul was very sincere and honest in this whole negotiation. I think this was a long negotiation for a lot of reasons. One was Forsberg was having problems with his foot, skate if you will, and you know, went to many different people and different skates and what have you.

I think everyone would acknowledge that in the last week or so that Forsberg seems to be much more comfortable with his skate, and I would say his play has risen because of that. It was my understanding that Forsberg was not -- would not agree to be traded if he did not feel that he could commit and be as healthy as possible to a new team.

So you know, I believe Peter Forsberg is an honorable guy. I believe his foot and skate is in the best condition that it can be. In watching over the last several games I think he's played very well. There's nothing that's risk-free as we all know in the hockey business.

Last year I was part of -- we traded -- gave up our first pick for Brendan Witt. People asked if that was a good deal or not. Well, what happened there was Thomas Vokoun got sick with a blood disorder; Steve Sullivan got hurt; Scott Walker was playing injured; Zidlicky didn't play. So you have to be a little lucky in these things, and hopefully for us Forsberg will be (indiscernible).

Q. Did you ever get the sense in the last week or so that it was sort of, you know, between you and another team? That you weren't clearly the front runner?

DAVID POILE: I'm not sure exactly how to answer that. I mean, in talking with Paul on a daily basis, he certainly got across to me that there was lots of competition to get Peter. So until we agreed on the deal late this afternoon I was very nervous that it could go in a different direction.

Q. Did you talk to Paul Kariya at all about Forsberg since he played with him in Colorado that year?

DAVID POILE: I was a little nervous to do that. I did talk to Paul in the last couple of days when it came out in -- all of the media that Forsberg was being possibly traded and Nashville was named.

Because as you might imagine, the environment around our room was quite topical of whether this was true or not. That's the only time I talked to Paul about that.

Q. I'm sure he gave you a ringing endorsement.

DAVID POILE: He thinks that Forsberg is obviously a terrific player and person, and I have to imagine everybody within our room really feels this is a good move for or team.

Q. Did you have to do more soul searching for this or Rod Langley?

DAVID POILE: That's a good question: Rod Langley, for any of you that might have been around when I first started, that was at the very beginning. That was the first ten days of my career is as general manager. So that was for a team that had never made the playoffs and was just beginning to be an competitive team.

I would like to think that this deal is for a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

Q. Just curious as to if you could speak to the experience Forsberg brings to your locker room as far as the playoffs are concerned. He has such a wealth of experience it's got to help.

DAVID POILE: He brings the most experience. Statistically the most games. He's led the NHL twice in scoring in the playoffs. I mean, this is unbelievable to get a guy like this type of experience to come into your hockey club. We have a lot of good veterans and a lot of guys that have playoff experience, like Jason Arnott and Kariya, but we have nobody like Peter Forsberg.

I mean, when you're talking about Forsberg in the history of the NHL, he's going to go down as one of the best ever to play in the National Hockey League. He's now a Nashville Predator this year. This is fantastic.

Q. You talked about the community earlier. Did the attendance situation maybe, and support in Nashville, did it make this move any more urgent than it might in a different community?

DAVID POILE: Well, the situation with the Predators is a subplot to our franchise, and there's always a little bit of publicity, negativity that we're not drawing as well. The city is not big enough to support. It's not enough.

Again, from my standpoint as a general manager and all of our scouts and coaches, all we can do it put a winning teeming on the ice. Hopefully we're doing that and will have ultimate success in the playoffs. And let's see what kind of interest we have in Nashville. Let's see if we turn out to be like Carolina and Tampa Bay where they're building on a regular basis. Of course, it's necessary to (indiscernible) a franchise in a fiscally responsible way.

Q. You didn't have to give up Radulov. Would you still have made the trade if you had to give up Radulov?

DAVID POILE: (Indiscernible.) [No.]

 

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