Monday, February 25, 2008

Forsberg Back To The Future, McCarty back in MoTown

If you're an avid Back To The Future fan, then yesterday was your day when it came to the hockey scene as two former bitter Western rivals turned back the clock to a decade prior.

Back then, the best rivalry in the game was between the Red Wings and Avalanche featuring some epic playoff battles resulting in Cups for both franchises. Well, it's been a while since these teams had that sort of magic going. Maybe with yesterday's moves, they're trying to rekindle it in hopes of a big Spring.

First, former Colorado star center Peter Forsberg decided after all that he wanted to comeback, reversing course to re-sign with the Avalanche where he had his most success. It was there where Peter The Great became one of the best players in the league helping lead the Avs to their first Cup in 1996 and also being part of that second championship five years later even though he missed the final two series.

For a decade, Forsberg lit up the highlight reel teaming up with captain Joe Sakic to form a dynamic duo. Following the lockout, the Swede left the thin air for the Flyers where he played the last two injury riddled seasons due to a bad right foot.

Not long ago, it looked like a Foppa return to the NHL wouldn't occur because the 34 year-old pivot recently concluded that he wasn't where he needed to be for that to happen. Well, I guess a lot can change in a week. Especially when the Avs are waving lots of cash at their former superstar in the hopes that a less than 100 percent Forsberg will be able to get them back to the postseason after falling short last year.

Currently, the Avalanche rank 10th in the ultracompetitive Western Conference trailing eighth place Nashville by four points and the upstart Coyotes by one. The Blue Jackets are only a point in back of the Avs and five out while the Blues are six behind the Preds.

With 19 games remaining, Colorado is paying Forsberg a pro-rated one million for basically a six week rental. If it were a full season, he'd make five million.

It's certainly no guarantee that the Avs will make the cut but with Sakic finally healthy along with leading scorer Paul Stastny plus a motivated Forsberg, that should give them a leg up on the competition.

Colorado will visit Calgary later tonight and plays Vancouver twice in the next week. Plus the pesky Kings and defending champion Ducks. Certainly nothing easy about the upcoming schedule.

While the Avs are going Back To The Future, Doc Brown and Marty McFly also might want to make a visit to the Joe Louis Arena where the Wings will be welcoming back the comebacking Darren McCarty.

The 35 year-old former member of The Grind Line will get a second chance at the NHL after a battle with alcohol and drugs which left him bankrupt. The Wings gave him a tryout with the AHL's Grand Rapids and IHL's Flint Generals.

With the team struggling lately having dropped seven of eight due to a ton of injuries which has kept out Nicklas Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek, Chris Chelios, Dan Cleary and Niklas Kronwall, Detroit GM Ken Holland decided his club needed to do something despite continuing to lead the league with 89 points (six more than red hot Dallas).

They'll hope the gritty and physical McCarty still has something left to reenergize the Original Six club who he once helped win three Cups with in 1997-98 and 2002.

At the very least, it should be intriguing to see how he fares. Wishing him the best of luck and hoping he makes the most out of this opportunity.

Boyle re-ups with Lightning: With the 3 PM deadline approaching, Tampa Bay and much coveted defenseman Dan Boyle decided they wanted to remain together. The Bolts and Boyle agreed to a brand new six-year contract extension worth a reported $40 million.

The 31 year-old has three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 17 games this season. During his nine-year NHL career with Florida and Tampa, the Ottawa native has tallied 76 goals and 203 assists for 278 points in 503 games.

Most of that production has come with the Bolts. In 374 games since GM Jay Feaster acquired him six years prior, Boyle has totaled 239 points (65-174-239). That kind of reliable production was a big part of the franchise's only championship in 2004.

He'll be continuing to run the power play and log big minutes instead of being dealt elsewhere.

Prospal To Flyers: The same day, Feaster also unloaded forward Vaclav Prospal to the Flyers in exchange for defenseman Alexandre Picard and a conditional 2009 draft pick.

The recently turned 33 year-old Prospal returns to where he began his NHL career a decade ago. After stints with Ottawa, Florida, Tampa, Anaheim and again Tampa, he's come full circle and will try to help the depleted Flyers make the playoffs.

After a disappointing 2006-07 in which he scored just 14 goals and 55 points with a dreadful minus-24 rating, the veteran Czech has bounced back with a strong season notching 29 goals, 28 helpers for 57 points in 62 contests with the Bolts.

With the Flyers' best forward Mike Richards sidelined due to a torn hamstring, GM Paul Holmgren needed to do something to upgrade his roster. This is a solid addition.

Jackman re-signed: The St. Louis Blues also made some news yesterday re-signing defenseman Barret Jackman to a four-year extension. The 26 year-old injury prone physical defenseman was thought to be on the block but instead St. Louis Team President John Davidson opted to retain him.

Following a solid 2006-07 in which he attained career highs in assists (24) and points (27) as well as got into his most games (70) since his rookie season, the British Columbia native has struggled. In 58 contests, he's 2-6-8 with 63 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating.

One Blogger's Reaction: With Boyle and Jackman staying put, the defensemen to look for who could get moved later today are Buffalo's Brian Campbell, Toronto's Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle along with LA's Rob Blake.

We'll have more on the deadline at some point today as I'll be quite busy. Hope our other bloggers contribute to what should be a fun day!

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