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What We Learned From Peter Forsberg on Spittin’ Chiclets

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Flyers and Predators legend Peter Forsberg — who also had a stint with the Avalanche and Nordiques during his average NHL career — did a lengthy interview with the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast released Tuesday morning.

It’s a very interesting discussion with former NHLers Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette that is worthy of 56 minutes of your time.

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview, so spoilers ahead obviously. Don’t read any further if you want to hear this without my hot takes ruining it for you!

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  • He claimed to have been a bigger kid growing up, more interested in snacks than lifting weights.
  • His goal was never to make the NHL as he thought that was a far-off dream and really just wanted to play for his hometown team of Modo. Wanted to stay home as long as possible.
  • He liked being called by his nickname Foppa growing up. He says he preferred that to the more stiff-sounding “Peter”… you know, his birth name.  
  • Don Baizley (his agent) was the one who told him he was going to be picked higher in that ’91 draft than initially thought. Forsberg was anticipating to be a second- or third-round pick, but was shocked to think he might go mid-first round as Baizley predicted. He was eventually taken sixth by the Flyers. 
  • Forsberg glosses over the Lindros Trade that sent him to the Nordiques. There is a lot to unpack in that whole saga that could have taken an hour, but he chooses to redirect the question — rather gracefully might I add — to the talented team he ended up on and how happy he was to be with that group of players.
  • Speaking of those players, I remember the last year of the Nordiques in Quebec because that was my team, but you forget just how loaded with young talent they were and just how close they were to making the jump while in that city. Then he talked about Pierre Lacroix doing what he thought the team needed to get better and how that involved trading away talented players like Owen Nolan, Mats Sundin and Wendel Clark to get savvy veterans that would help get them to the Cup run.
  • Playing his first season in Quebec in 1995 was made easier by the fact that it was the lockout-shortened season. The transition to North America, the style of play and the league were all better for him with an abridged rookie campaign. 
  • In discussing the move, Forsberg twice mentions the move to Colorado allowing players to get paid where they wouldn’t be able to meet payroll in Quebec. I don’t think the league would have allowed that to happen due to the massive legal issues it would have caused with the players union, but it was interesting to hear it put in such a dire perspective from a player’s point of view.
  • Forsberg talks about hearing the rumors of the move during his rookie season, but apparently didn’t put much stock in it. Claims to have found out about the move to Denver from a phone call that summer. I would love to have heard the call the players got informing them of the complete relocation of their jobs across the continent.
  • He only tried the shootout move that now bears his name once before attempting it in the Gold Medal Game against Canada in the 1994 Olympics in Norway… and he missed. So the goal that gave Sweden the gold — and would live in infamy on postage stamps — was actually the first successful attempt at the move.
  • He told a story about running out of gas in the playoffs during the late 90’s. Based on his telling, I figured the year was 1999 since he talks about a series against the Sharks. The one flaw I found in his re-telling is he said the year before was against Dallas which couldn’t be. I assume he meant that famous Edmonton series in 1998 where the team blew a 3-1 series lead and lost in seven. That’s neither here nor there. Who am I to challenge the great Peter Forsberg’s storytelling (yet, here I am…). The point of his story was that they lost Games 3 and 4 against the Sharks after taking the first two contests and Bob Hartley asking the room what the issue was. Patrick Roy stood up and pointed at Forsberg and said he wasn’t putting in any effort and the Avalanche goaltender could see that. To his credit, Forsberg did say that running out of gas the year before made him think the best way to win was to conserve energy for later rounds. After Roy called him out, he responded with a goal and assist in Game 5 and the Avs would go on to take the series, 4-2. At the time he was still a young player, but it’s funny to think that a sure-fire Hall of Famer can get chewed out in front of the locker room by a teammate… even if that teammate is a legend of the game. 
  • Forsberg didn’t think the spleen injury was very serious to start and was more concerned with missing the balance of the playoffs. After Game 7 against LA in the second round of the 2001 playoffs he was at dinner with some teammates when his left side began to hurt. Went to the ER based on the advice of the team’s athletic trainer thinking it wouldn’t be that bad and within an hour and a half said that he had 1.7 liters of blood draining into his body, causing him to nearly die. 
  • He went back to Sweden after training camp the following year to recoup after surgery on his ankle thinking he would be out just a few months, but needed another procedure on a tendon when he returned to Denver in January. That was the issue that caused him to miss the entirety of the season and put his playoffs in jeopardy. He also said he only took part  in one full-contact practice drill prior to the start of the postseason before he was cleared to play the opening round against the Kings. 
  • He wasn’t paid during that stretch when he was injured, telling the team not to pay him while he was home trying to get healthy and pain free. “The stupid part was it was my highest-paying year, so personally it was bad timing. I guess my economy studies didn’t work out on that one.”
  • Forsberg was one of the earliest investors in Crocs and was brought into the company thanks to a pair of friends from the Boulder area. He came on board under the impression that they were boating shoes and was eventually the point person who introduced the company’s product to the Scandinavian market. Interesting to note that Forsberg’s biggest money-making play (outside of his NHL contracts) involved a comfortable shoe considering his on-ice career was hampered and ultimately cut short due to issues with his feet and ankles.
  • Anyone who knows about Forsberg’s career knows about the foot issues, but it was kind of jarring to hear that he had upwards of a dozen surgeries to repair issues with his feet, including one to move his heel (what?!) and another to move it back when they realized the heel wasn’t the underlying problem (WHAT?!).
  • He told his teammates and head coach that he was retiring between periods of a game with the Flyers due to his foot issues. Forsberg would reconsider after getting a goal and an assist later in the game and earning one of the stars of the game. Go figure.
  • In discussing the period following the lockout when he would leave the Avalanche, Forsberg talks about how he had no ill-will toward the team and understood what the rationale was in their thinking. He had a meeting with Lacroix and both parties wanted to stay in Denver, but it couldn’t work under the new salary structure. The last part of this made me laugh because it highlights the self awareness was him saying “I understood their decision and looking bad at my career after the lockout, they made the right call.” 
  • This one was shocking to me because it’s the first I’ve ever heard this: After the lockout ended and Forsberg and Foote were the Avalanche cap casualties, he almost signed in Boston before settling on Philadelphia and the team that drafted him. Imagine what Peter Forsberg would have looked like in a Bruins sweater… Now imagine him on the Predators and you get the same vibe. Just a weird look. 
  • Speaking of the Preds, Forsberg was in Nashville for a pair of games the weekend after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately for Foppa, both games (including the Friday contest against Colorado) were canceled due to the water pipe burst. Tough timing for a guy who flew in from Switzerland to see the games.

 

Again, it’s a great interview with Forsberg. I wish he went into more depth into playing with Sakic other than the brief discussion on his mentorship early on, but that’s fine. 

The one thing I would have absolutely loved to have heard was regarding the stories you hear about his reaction to the Deadmarsh trade in 2001. The connection those two had and how the trade nearly caused Foppa to leave Denver himself is always mysterious and hearing his side would have been fascinating.

If you listened, did I miss anything that you found to be interesting or new?

Pat is a life-long Nordiques/Avalanche fan living in New Hampshire. His wife is very understanding of his passion for the team and the sport of hockey, while also allowing him to brainwash his children into following in his footsteps. He also has a chocolate lab who is his best friend.

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