Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Correction Plus Special Feature on Peter Forsberg

In my last post, I said that the Isles, Bruins and Pens were in a three-way tie for ninth in the East with 48 points. But due to Toronto's 3-2 win in Florida, that vaulted the Leafs into a tie for eighth with the Rangers. So that would put the aformentioned teams in a three-way tie for 10th in the unpredictable Eastern Conference. The Caps also with their 5-2 victory at Carolina are up to 47 points and are seeded 13th despite only being three out of the final spot. Florida meanwhile remains six off the pace ranking 14th with 44 points while NHL Siberia Philly is 30th in the league with only 26 points.

How bad are the Flyers? They're so bad that they're still 12 behind the 29th ranked Kings who just signed the ageless Sean Burke. Are you kidding?!?!?!?!?! He's got to be 100 years old in hockey terms. What the heck are they doing over there? They have Mathieu Garon, Dan Cloutier and Jason LaBarbera toiling in the minors. And also didn't they recall someone named Barry Brust? And then that former Japanese pick Yutaka Fukufuji debuted in the past week. They have some promise up front thanks to the young trio of Alexander Frolov, Slovenian rookie Anze Kopitar and emerging star Michael Cammalleri. But this team's goaltending is a mess. Why carry so many vets? May as well let Fukufuji get his chance and split time with Garon. I never understood the Cloutier move from the beginning other than it had Marc Crawford's fingerprints
all over it since he coached Clouts in Vancouver. But Sean Burke??? Say it ain't so!

And speaking of that, the Flyers only have three wins on home ice all season. They have an NHL worst 31 losses and have allowed 178 goals. They should be the frontrunner for the first overall pick this summer. Knowing their luck, they'll lose out to someone else or botch it altogether.

Meanwhile, the broken down Peter Forsberg recorded an assist in only his 30th game this season. It was the 600th assist of his brilliant NHL career. For the season, he has 27 points (8-19-27) in just 30 contests while missing 16 thanks to an assortment of injuries. The man his home country refers to as Foppa has had a marvelous career. Part of both Stanley Cups in Colorado, the Swedish star has been everything advertised since he first entered the league as a starry eyed rookie back in 1995 with the then Quebec Nordiques. It's a pity what's become of his career. All the injuries have taken its toll.

Amazingly, the 33 year-old former sixth overall 1991 selection of ironically the Flyers before being packaged to Quebec along with an assortment of others (Ricci, Duchesne, Huffman, Hextall, Simon, Baumgartner) for Eric Lindros has only taken part in a full season once, accomplishing it back in only his second season when the Avalanche won their first Cup. During it, he was brilliant putting up 30 goals along with career bests in helpers (86) and points (116). In helping the Avs sweep the Panthers, Foppa was 10-11-21 in 22 postseason games back in 1996. During the Avs' 2001 Cup run, he played only the first two rounds getting into 11 games totaling 14 points before watching captain Joe Sakic carry the team on his back to its second championship.

After spending his first nine seasons with the Quebec/Colorado franchise, he signed with the Flyers two years ago after the lockout was finally settled. In his debut season in The City of Brotherly Love, he amassed 75 points (19-56-75) in just 60 games. Despite his club falling in humiliating fashion at home in a first round Game 6 blowout loss to Buffalo, Forsberg did his part putting up eight points (4-4-8) while playing through injury. After expecting not to return until this year, his rehab went ahead of schedule allowing him to return earlier this season. But his health is still a daily issue. Playing with discomfort in his ankle, he had orthodox fitted into his skates just so he could feel comfortable.

Still though, the former 2002-03 Hart recipient is a shell of himself these days which often leaves us wondering if he's going to take some serious time off after the season or even call it quits. It would be ashame if a man of this stature was forced to retire. This is one of the best talents in our era and we've been fortunate to watch him night in and night out. It's very sad that he now plays on such a dismal team. During his 11-year career, he's produced 243 goals, 600 assists for 843 total points in only 670 games. Ridiculous numbers which translate to 1.26 points-per-game for his career. Only the all-time greats such as Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Bobby Orr have him beat. Ironically, the player he was traded for Lindros had had a similar career, except without winning a Cup in large part due to the Devils along with an injury plagued career. The Big E who now resides in Dallas has 863 points in 747 career games (1.16) to fall off from a career average which one was at 1.36. In many ways their careers have paralleled each other. But Forsberg can still put up around a point-per-game while Lindros is still capable of good production. These are two of the best superstars of the last two decades.

Just imagine if they had been fully healthy for their entire careers. We'll never know.

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