Forsberg joins Avalanche on the road, but not in lineup yet

Updated: February 28, 2008, 7:11 PM ET
Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It took Peter Forsberg 29 hours to get from his native Sweden to Vancouver, where he joined the Colorado Avalanche on the ice Wednesday.

After waiting nearly four seasons to get the former NHL MVP back, the Avalanche didn't mind holding out a little longer.

"It was a long traveling day, it took a long time to get to Vancouver, but I'm definitely excited to be here," Forsberg said during a news conference about an before the Avalanche played the Vancouver Canucks without him.

Forsberg joined his new team late Tuesday night, and got on the ice for an optional skate Wednesday morning for the first time since his surprise signing and return to the NHL two days earlier.

"It's definitely great to see the guys, and hopefully I'll get to join them on the ice and play some games soon," he said.

When that will be is still unclear. The other question surrounding Forsberg's return are the ongoing ankle and foot problems that kept him out of the NHL all season. He felt well enough to come back to the team he helped to two Stanley Cups titles during his first nine-season stint.

Forsberg said he wouldn't return to Colorado with the rest of the team after Wednesday's game in Vancouver because he still has U.S. immigration issues to resolve.

He said there was a chance he would be back in time to play in Colorado on Saturday, but seemed more optimistic about suiting up sometime during the rest of the Avalanche's four-game homestand.

"Of course you'd like a real good practice before you start playing, too," said Forsberg, admitting he was nervous about returning so late in the season. "Definitely, it's not going to be easy. I've been skating back home a little bit, but I know it's not an easy league. You don't just jump in and think you're going to expect to play a great first game."

Still, Forsberg was confident the foot problems that plagued him for years were, "definitely on the right path."

He skated for close to an hour Wednesday morning with seven other players during an optional game-day skate -- most took it off after winning in Calgary the night before -- and continued on his own for 20 minutes.

Forsberg dismissed reports he had a setback with the oft-injured foot recently, saying he's been working with his doctor in Sweden for seven months. There were also reports Forsberg, 34, wasn't coming back at all this season after his agent, Don Baizley, told teams bidding for his services that he wasn't ready to commit to a return.

A week later, he surprised many by signing a one-year deal with Colorado worth about $1 million for the rest of the season.

"A week ago I didn't think I was 100 percent ready to make a decision," Forsberg said. "That's why we came out and told the GMs, 'I'm not ready to make a decision right now, so if you have to go out and sign somebody else or do a trade, just go ahead and do it. Don't wait for me," he said. "This Monday came around and I felt good on the ice and I wanted to come back."

Why he wanted to come back to Colorado was less complicated.

Forsberg won Stanley Cup titles in 1996 and 2001, and the Hart Trophy as MVP in 2003 with Colorado before signing with Philadelphia in 2005. He was traded to Nashville last year and hasn't played in the NHL since the Predators were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs.

"You've got to understand it might take a few games to get back," he said. "I've been nursing that foot injury and the foot problem for a long time, so I don't know how it's going to go.

"People that have been watching me, especially in Colorado, know that I do my best on the ice, and if I don't play good they at least know I'm trying my best every time I'm on the ice."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press