Dom Lunardo | May 4th, 2020
One of the finest Swedish hockey players of all-time appears in the form of Peter Forsberg. As a player, Forsberg was a superstar power-forward with an incredible skill set. A proven winner, Forsberg is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion and member of the Triple Gold Club (Olympic Gold, World Championship, and Stanley Cup). Hockey fans all around the world have adored both his on-ice vision and elite style of play. Let’s rewind and enjoy a “blast from the past” by taking a closer look at the life and playing career of Peter Forsberg.
Draft: 6th overall, 1991, Philadelphia Flyers
NHL Clubs: Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators
NHL All-Star Game Appearances: 7
Stanely Cups: 1999, 2001 (Both with Colorado)
Hall-of-Fame Inductee: 2014
Make sure to check out all of our Blast From the Past articles here.
A Young Swedish Sensation
Forsberg’s story begins in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden where his passion for hockey blossomed from a very early age. His father, Kent, coached the Modo Hockey team, in addition to the Swedish National Team. Kent had a tremendous influence on his son’s life and playing career. Growing up, Forsberg was also close friends with Markus Naslund, and the two played hockey together on several youth teams in Sweden. As many hockey fans can recall, Naslund would go on to enjoy a wonderful career with the Vancouver Canucks. Both Forsberg and Naslund held rank as two of the greatest Swedes in NHL history. What’s even more sentimental is that they both hailed from the same small town of Ornskoldsvik.
In 1990, Forsberg joined Modo Hockey, where his playing career was launched. A year later, Forsberg appeared for the yellow and blue of Sweden at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. In 1993, Forsberg once again appeared at the World Juniors, only this time around he put on a performance for the ages. Just seven games played at the tournament, Forsberg scored seven goals and 24 assists for 31 points. In addition, Forsberg also put ten points on the board in a game against Japan. Forsberg’s contributions during the 1993 World Juniors are still a talking point today, which makes it all the more astonishing. Each year the tournament hosts its “fair share” of “stars in the making”. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to see a “Forsberg-like” performance replicated at the World Juniors anytime soon.
Delayed Start to Superstardom
After tallying 102 points in just 39 games with Modo, Forsberg was on many North American Scouts’ radar. By June 1991, Forsberg’s dream came true and was drafted in the first round, 6th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers. Here’s where it becomes a little cloudy. 5 picks earlier, the Quebec Nordiques (who later relocated to Colorado and became the Colorado Avalanche), selected Eric Lindros with the number one selection. However, Lindros refused to suit up for the Nordiques and began a season-long holdout. A year later, Lindros was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers (low and behold) in a deal that involved Peter Forsberg.
The ensuing three seasons saw Forsberg returned to Sweden to play for Modo. During that time, Forsberg would become known as the “the “best player in the world outside of the National Hockey League”. After the NHL lockout in 1994, Forsberg hit the ground running in North America. By January 1995 he made his full- NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that drafted him. Despite the shortened 47-game season, Forsberg would tally 15 goals and 35 assists for 50 points. By season’s end, Forsberg won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie capping a whirlwind season.
Quebec to Denver
On July 1, 1995, Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut agreed to sell the team to the COMSAT Entertainment Group who relocated the franchise to Denver, Colorado. By next month, the franchise was officially presented as the Colorado Avalanche. Low and behold, it was Forsberg who was credited with the last goal in Nordiques team history.
As a member of the Avalanche, Forsberg joined the likes of Joe Sakic, Adam Foote, and Patrick Roy. How’s that for a first-year supporting cast? In their inaugural season, the Avalanche would go on to win the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1996. A picture-perfect end to a season that saw Forsberg post 116 points, the single-best of his career. The Avalanche would go on to hoist a second Stanely Cup in 2001 even though Forsberg missed most of the action due to a spleen operation.
The 2002-03 season saw some added silverware for Forberg who brought home a few prestigious honors. Forsberg’s season was capped with both the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy. His on-ice production was recognized off it from with both individual and team accolades in abundance. Forsberg would also play for both the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators throughout his illustrious career. Each coming in the “twilight” of his playing days. For what its worth, his time in Denver, Colorado as a member of the “Avs” was simply remarkable. It also helped shape Forberg one of the most recognizable faces in the game.
Despite a career riddled with injury, few would argue that Forsberg was an absolute wizard with the puck on his stick. Forsberg saw the ice very well and loved to make plays in all three zones. Many would attest that in the very prime of his career, Forsberg was one of the top two-way forwards in the game. His physical play, size, and tremendous stickhandling skills made him an absolute force on each and every shift. Forsberg was one of those players who demanded a lot of himself and made his team/lines better. At the peak of his playing days, Forsberg is accredited with being one of the finest players of his generation.
Many experts from around the National Hockey League have compared Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals to Peter Forsberg. Both share an eerily similar playing style and the comparison is uncanny. Before his draft year in the summer of 2006, Backstrom was asked if he’s the next Peter Forsberg, in an interview. His response, quite prudently put, was “No. There is, and will only ever be one Peter Forsberg.”
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images