One assist, goal for hometown star
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- First, Peter Forsberg watched as his retired jersey No. 21 was lowered from the rafters at Kempehallen.
Then, after getting a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd, the locked-out Colorado Avalanche superstar responded by setting up the first goal and scoring the second on another power-play as his old hometown team Modo routed Lulea 6-2 Thursday night in the Swedish Elite League.
"We got off to a great start with two power-play goals. I think we played much better than in the (league) opener," said Forsberg, refering to a 3-3 tie with Brynas on Tuesday.
Forsberg, considered the world's best hockey player, had not played a competitive game in his hometown of Ornskoldsvik in northern Sweden for 10 years, or 3,544 days.
Modo has a star-studded team with seven locked-out NHLers, among them Vancouver Canucks twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Tommy Salo, a former NHLer who was Sweden's biggest hero along with Forsberg 10 years in the Olympic final against Canada, is the goalie.
But two other locked-out players, Vancouver sniper Markus Naslund, who is Forsberg's boyhood buddy and the best goal scorer in the NHL the two past seasons, and Niklas Sundstrom reportedly will not play for Modo until early January because of tax reasons.
Forsberg, a seven-time NHL all-star and a former NHL MVP, is one of Sweden's most popular athletes ever. He grew up playing for Modo's junior teams. His contract with the Avs expired this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent, but he left the window open for an NHL return.
Forsberg has a Stanley Cup ring, Olympic and world championship gold medals, NHL MVP honors and an NHL rookie of the Year award, and is one of Europe's richest athletes. But he still lacks a Swedish hockey league gold.
That was the main reason he decided to play the entire season for Modo, even if the NHL season is saved.
Ornskoldsvik, a seaport with about 31,000, is located halfway between the Swedish capital Stockholm and the Arctic Circle. Two weeks ago, Forsberg announced that he will help finance a new 6,500-seat hockey arena in the city, which will be Modo new home ice when it is completed in 2006.
Forsberg's father Kent, a former Swedish national team coach, is in charge of the Modo team this year. Last summer, they financed Ornskoldsvik's new golf course.
Elsewhere, Henrik Zetterberg had one goal and one assist as his former Swedish club Timra edged Brynas 4-3.
Zetterberg led all rookies in scoring with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002-03 and was runner-up for the Calder Trophy, which is given to the NHL's rookie of the year.
Miika Kiprusoff, who helped the Calgary Flames to last season's Stanley Cup finals against eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning and his native Finland to the recent World Cup of Hockey finals against champion Canada, made his debut for Timra with flying colors.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press