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