February 14, 2011
Peter Forsberg's(notes) latest, and perhaps last, NHL comeback lasted 35 minutes and 10 seconds over the span of two games. He didn't tally a point, picked up four penalty minutes and was a minus-4. It's an unsatisfactory end to a spectacular 13-season career, but one that'll be a forgotten coda; the last in a series of inconsequential attempts to restart his Hall of fame-caliber career.
The Colorado Avalanche announced late Monday morning that Forsberg will hold a 2:30 p.m. press conference at Pepsi Center and "will announce his retirement from the game of hockey." There's a finality to that phrasing, and Foppa had previously indicated this journey back from foot surgery would be his "final test." So perhaps this is the end.
If this isn't the shortest comeback in NHL history, it's one of the shortest. Miracle On Ice player Mike Ramsay previously had a two-game comeback with the Red Wings in 1997 as well.
Give the man credit: He could have hung on longer, tested his body further, continued to pile up minuses and penalties while logging top-line minutes. He could have forced the Avs into making this decision for him after cutting a break to a franchise legend. He didn't, and he deserves mucho credit for not going down that road.
In hindsight, Forsberg's comments upon agreeing to a one-year deal with the Avalanche were prophetic:
"I don't know how good I'm going to be. I don't know how it's going to go, I'm going to say that right now," Forsberg said. "But I like to play and I want to play. I've been feeling pretty good, and I want to see if I'm good enough."
He saw enough in two games -- and we'll assume it's Forsberg making this call, of course -- to shut it down, perhaps for good.
From All Things Avs, here's a bit of Forsberg at his press conference:
"I played hockey my whole life," he said. "But I decided I've played my final game."
With one last shocking surprise in a career filled with them, Forsberg this morning notified the Avalanche he would retire effective immediately. Lingering injuries to his foot, Forsberg said, finally kept him from defending himself on the ice.
"When I went out on the rink, I gave everything," Forsberg said today. "I tried and tried and tried. I'm really sure this time."
The greatest misconception about Peter Forsberg is that he's Hockey Favre, and he's not. Monday's decision, in fact, is as anti-Favre as you can get. (OK, monogamy and taking a cell-phone photo with your pants on probably falls into that category as well.)
Forsberg is more like the boxer that can't leave the ring, and that attempts to push his body through injury and age to show that (a) he's still got it and (b) for one last taste of glory. It becomes an uncomfortable point of annoyance for fans, but it doesn't tarnish the gold on the heavyweight belts he's already won.
UPDATE: Video from Adrian Dater and the Denver Post of the Forsberg farewell.