Peter Forsberg had an NHL career that spanned 13 years with three different teams and by the time it was over, he went down in history as one of the best to ever play the game. A two-time Stanley Cup Champion, a Hart Trophy winner, and two Olympic gold medals defined his illustrious career.
Born in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden on July 20, 1973, Peter Forsberg is the son of popular Swedish coach Kent Forsberg, who coached MODO Hockey as well as the Swedish National team from 1995-1998.
Forsberg made his junior debut during the 1989-90 season for MODO Jr. He racked up 27 points in 30 games. He got recalled by the MODO Hockey mens team of the Elitserien where he played one game and recorded one assist. Forsberg tore up the junior league during his sophomore season, posting 38 goals and 102 points in 39 games. He was recalled once again by MODO and this time played 23 games with 17 points.
That summer, Forsberg was drafted sixth overall in 1991 by the Philadelphia Flyers, he was the first European player taken in the draft even though he was projected to go in a later round. Then-Flyers GM Russ Farwell said they were going to prove that time would prove his selection right. Eric Lindros was drafted first overall that year by the Nordiques, but he refused to play for them and began a year-long holdout.
Forsberg made his international debut for Sweden at the 1992 World Junior Championship. Forsberg led the tournament in scoring with 17 points in six games helping Sweden to a silver medal. He later debuted on the Swedish Mens team at the 1992 Word Championships. He scored one goal as Sweden won a gold medal.
On June 30, 1992, the Flyers traded Peter Forsberg along with Steve Duchesne, Ron Hextall, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, $15 million in cash, a 1993 first round pick (Jocelyn Thibault), and a 1994 first round pick (Nolan Baumgartner).
Forsberg played in his second World Juniors the following season in 1993. He set a tournament record with 31 points in seven games as he scored 10 points in one game, also a record. His childhood friend Markus Naslund set a record with 13 goals. Sweden once again finished with a silver medal. He later joined the mens team at the 1993 World Championships where Sweden won silver.
He was named to the Swedish Olympic Team in 1994. Forsberg scored the gold medal-winning penalty shot using the now-famous “one hand-slide in” goal, a play that is still replicated in today’s shootouts.
Forsberg stayed in Sweden until the 1994-95 season when he joined the already stacked Quebec Nordiques after the 1994-95 lockout. The Nordiques finished first in the Eastern Conference, but got bounced in the first round by the Rangers.
The Nordiques financial troubles reached critical levels after their early departure from the playoffs. Playing in the smallest market in the NHL at the time, they couldn’t find the proper marketability in the heavily Canadien-favorited area. Soon after the playoffs ended, the team was sold to a Denver based group of investors, who relocated the team and re-named them the Colorado Avalanche.
The Avalanche were very successful during their first season in Colorado in 1995-96. They were carried by Joe Sakic who registered 120 points and Peter Forsberg who posted a career high 30 goals and 116 points, as well as goaltender Patrick Roy. The Avalanche finished in second place in the Western Conference. They tore through Vancouver in the first round and Chicago in the second. They met fierce rivals and President Trophy-winning Red Wings in the Western Conference Final where the Avalanche would beat the Wings in six games. Advancing to the Stanley Cup in their first year of existence, they swept the Florida Panthers in the Final to win the Stanley Cup. Forsberg was a key member of that team as he scored 21 points in 22 playoff games.
Forsberg played for Team Sweden in the 1996 World Cup helping Sweden win bronze.
The Avalanche were able to keep their core together for the 1996-97 season and finished atop the Western Conference. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Final before losing to the Red Wings in six games. Forsberg played 65 games that season but still lead the Avs in points with 86. Forsberg was one of four players on the Avalanche to score over a point-per-game pace in the playoffs recording 17 points in 14 games.
In 1997-98 the Avalanche finished first in the Pacific division but due to a late season losing streak they finished in second place in the Western Conference. Forsberg was the team leader in points with 91. The Edmonton Oilers shocked the Avalanche by beating them in the first round in seven games. Despite getting shut out in game six and seven, Forsberg still managed to score 11 points and seven games.
Forsberg returned to the national stage for the 1998 Olympics, the first Olympics to feature NHL players. Sweden finished in fifth place, failing to win a medal. at season’s end he joined team Sweden at the 1998 World Championships. Sweden won gold as Forsberg contributed eleven points in seven games.
1998-99 brought multiple long win streaks for the Avalanche. They had a 12-game win streak from early January to early February and an 8-0-1 stretch in March and April. Forsberg once again lead the team in points during the regular season with 97, then lead the team in playoff points with 24 in 19 games. The Avalanche returned to the Western Conference Final, but lost in seven games to the first seeded Dallas Stars.
Peter Forsberg’s 1999-00 season was marred by injuries as he only suited up for 49 games, though still managed to rack up 51 points. The Avalanche still made it all the way to the Western Conference Final, but once again lost to the Dallas Stars in seven games. Joe Sakic was joined by Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk as players that carried the offensive weight when Forsberg was hurt.
Forsberg again dealt with his share of injuries during the 2000-01 season. He played 73 games during the regular season, where he registered 27 goals and 89 points. The Avs finished first in the Western Conference. Forsberg only played two rounds as he had his spleen removed before the third round started. The Avalanche would go on to win the Stanley Cup on the backs of Joe Sakic and Ray Bourque.
Forsberg missed the whole 2001-02 season to recover from his spleen surgery as well as rest up multiple other injuries. The Avalanche didn’t falter in his absence mainly due to the William Jennings Trophy-winning season on Patrick Roy. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Final for the fourth straight year, but lost to their hated rival Red Wings in seven games.
Forsberg returned during the 2002-03 season and found his former glory. He centered the “AMP Line” along with wingers Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk. The trio was responsible for 271 points during the season, 106 of which belonged to Forsberg. The Avs disappointed in the playoffs as they got eliminated in seven games in the first round by the Minnesota Wild. Forsberg won the Art Ross Trophy as well as the Hart Memorial Trophy for his 106 point campaign.
After nearly seven years, Forsberg returned to the national stage at the 2003 World Championships. He scored eight points in seven games as Sweden won a sliver medal.
Injuries once again ruined another season for Forsberg, who played only 39 games in 2003-04. He still scored 18 goals and 55 points. The Avalanche still had a strong season, but didn’t fare well in the stacked Western Conference. The Sharks beat the Avalanche in six games in the second round, The Avalanche would struggle from here on out.
Forsberg played in the 2004 World Championships, but only played two games due to injury. He was still able to help Sweden win silver for the second straight year.
Forsberg spent the lockout 2004-05 season in Sweden playing in with his hometown MODO, which was coached by his father Kent. He was joined by best friend Markus Naslund as well as Henrik and Daniel Sedin. A broken hand would limit his games in Sweden to 33.
The addition of the salary cap hurt the Avalanche more than most teams as they were high spenders. They had to let Forsberg and Adam Foote go in order to keep Joe Sakic and Rob Blake. Forsberg signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on August 3, 2005.
He debuted for the Flyers in 2005-06 and recorded two assists on his first night. A groin injury limited Forsberg to 60 games. When he was healthy, he found success on the “Dueces Wild” line with Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne, both of whom had career years. Forsberg managed to score 19 goals and 75 points. The Flyers went on to lose in six games to the Sabres in the first round of the playoffs.
Forsberg made his second Olympic appearance for Sweden at the 2006 Olympics, winning gold with team Sweden. He recorded six assists and no goals in six games,.
Forsberg had surgery on his right ankle during the offseason and thought he’d need it on his left leg, but he decided against it and was ready for the start of the 2006-07 season. The Flyers had a miserable year, winning only 22 games. He was named 15th captain in Flyers history after Keith Primeau retired, but due to lingering leg injuries he missed a majority of the season, playing in only 40 games. At the trade deadline he was dealt to the Nashville Predators in return for Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall, and a 2007 first round pick.
He spent the last 17 games of the season with the Predators scoring two goals and 15 points. The Preds made the playoffs but were dispatched in five games in the first round by the Sharks.
Forsberg entered the 2007-08 season as a free agent after another surgery on his foot. He only wanted to play for one of his previous four teams whether that be in Europe of the NHL. He eventually signed with the Avalanche on February 25, 2008. He played just three games before a groin injury left him marked as day-to-day. He returned and played six more games before the end of the season. He scored one goal and 14 points in his return to the Avalanche. Forsberg played in seven of the teams 10 playoff games before they were eliminated by the Red Wings in the second round.
Forsberg returned to Europe for the following two seasons to play with MODO, but injuries limited him to just 26 games in that span. During the summer of 2010 he announced he would probably retire from professional hockey.
Forsberg made his last international appearance for team Sweden at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was team Sweden’s flag bearer for the opening ceremonies. He didn’t play much given his injury struggles, only registering a sole assist over four games. Sweden failed to medal, finishing in fifth place.
Five months later in January he rejoined the Avalanche trying to make a comeback to the NHL. On February 6, he signed a one year, $1 million contract to finish out the season with the Avalanche. He played two games on the road for the Avs going pointless, but retired officially before he played in a home game on February 11, 2011.
He returned to his home country of Sweden and two months after his retirement he was named assistant GM for MODO, working along close friend Markus Naslund.
Forsberg’s number 21 was retired by the Avalanche at beginning of the 2011-12 season. His number was also retired by MODO in February of 2015.
After his retirement he pursued multiple business ventures. He was an early investor in Crocs, and the company he owned, Pforce AB, was responsible for marketing them in Sweden. He sold Pforce AB in the summer of 2010 after taking financial losses. He was a part owner of the Swedish airline Nextjet, but they filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Today, he owns harness racing horses and is part owner of a Swedish golf course.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: NHL.com