Forsberg could return for start of Flyers season

Updated: July 11, 2006, 7:47 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Peter Forsberg doesn't need surgery on his left ankle and could be ready for the start of the NHL season, more than four months earlier than the Philadelphia Flyers forward was expected to return.

Center
Philadelphia Flyers

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM G A PTS +/- PIM
60 19 56 75 21 46

Forsberg met with a doctor in Charlotte, N.C., on Tuesday who told him the damage to the left ankle was minimal and would not need to be corrected. The center's right ankle was operated on two months ago.

"We're going to hold on the second surgery at this time," Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin said Tuesday. "We're going to rehab Peter's left ankle. That rehab will start tomorrow."

McCrossin said Forsberg can begin skating Sept. 1.

"It's our hope and our goal that we would have him back by the first of the season," he said.

In mid-May, Forsberg had torn ligaments repaired and several bones realigned in his right ankle during a three-hour operation. He was scheduled to have the same procedure on his left ankle when the right one healed, and was expected to be sidelined until about January.

Forsberg started rehabilitation Thursday on his right ankle, seven weeks after the operation.

"It's been a hard couple of weeks now," he said. "Not to do the second one is great. Knowing I'm going to be back at the start of the season is great, too. I'm really happy today about what was decided. I'm excited to get the season going."

Forsberg has not ruled out the other surgery one day, but Dr. Robert Anderson said rehabilitation should strengthen the ligaments. Anderson told the former MVP the damage to the left ankle was "not even close" to the injuries sustained in his right one.

"It shouldn't be a problem. Hopefully it's going to be fine," Forsberg said.

Forsberg has had ankle problems for about seven years. The Flyers have said that the surgery should make him less prone to groin and abdominal strains. Most of the 22 games he missed last season were from groin-related injuries.

"It is a relief," Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said. "I think it gives us a much better chance to plan on how the season is going to start. Obviously, it's exceptionally good news for the hockey team."

Forsberg complained at the end of the season that he had loose ligaments in his ankles that were more uncomfortable than painful. The condition affected his balance, put added stress on his legs and made it difficult to keep his right foot in his skate.

"The right one has been the bad thing," Forsberg said. "It's always been slipping and sliding and not being able to stay in the boot. We think because of that, the left one has been feeling bad, too."

He had 19 goals and 75 points in his first season with the Flyers after leaving Colorado for a two-year, $11.5 million contract last summer.

Often considered one of the world's premier hockey players, Forsberg's impact in the lineup was obvious. Philadelphia was 35-16-9 with him in the lineup and 10-10-2 without him.

Forsberg, who led Sweden to an Olympic gold medal in Turin, said he has not talked about an extension with Flyers management.

"I'd like to see how the foot feels before we do anything," Forsberg said. "I'm sure we're going to do something some time."

McCrossin also said Flyers captain Keith Primeau, who missed nearly all of last season because of lingering symptoms from a concussion, had symptoms reappear, possibly because of a virus.

The trainer said Primeau had been working out regularly before complaining of pressure inside his head.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE