The Elitserien dropped the puck on its 2009-10 hockey season Sept. 21 but not even the presence of Swedish hockey’s biggest star could put the domestic league in front of its visitors (and rivals) from North America.
by Chipp Reid
The NHL opened its season in Sweden as well and it was the Detroit Red Wings, not Peter Forsberg, that dominated the sports headlines. Forsberg is trying to comeback yet again from a foot injury that has plagued him for nearly two years.
Forsberg scored less than six minutes into his comeback game but his hometown team Modo lost 4-2 to Frölunda in its opener.
Forsberg beat former NHL goalie Johan Holmqvist just 5:44 into the game with a shot between the pads that brought the crowd of 6,596 at Swedbank Arena in Örnsköldsvik to its feet.
"It was a totally bad shot, but that's probably what fooled him [Holmqvist]," Forsberg said.
Forsberg looked rusty the rest of the way.
"I'm not happy with anything," he told Swedish Web site HockeyExpressen.se.
"I have to play better if I'm going back to the NHL. Of course it was nice to score. We'll see if it will be better or worse against Djurgården."
Modo gave the 36-year-old Forsberg a one-week tryout contract. That means he'll play at least three games. Next up is Djurgården of Stockholm, the most successful team in Swedish hockey.
"It's sad to lose a season opener before such a big crowd," Forsberg said. "I was really nervous for this comeback."
Forsberg can play with Modo until the NHL season begins on Oct. 2 without jeopardizing a possible comeback in the NHL.
The veteran center, who won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche and was the NHL's MVP in 2003, played his first high-level game in 10 months in February. He was sidelined for most of last season after surgery on his right foot.
Forsberg has 249 goals and 636 assists in 12 seasons with Colorado, Philadelphia and Nashville.
Forsberg is widely considered to be among the greatest two-way players of all time, known for his prolific offensive skills as well as his tenacious defensive play.
He is one of the few players to win a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and world championship. He captured his first Olympic gold medal at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, scoring the clinching goal in a penalty shootout against Canada. Sweden is the defending Olympic champion, having won the gold at the 2006 Turin Games where Forsberg was one of the stars.
Last month, he was named to Sweden's preliminary Olympic roster for the Vancouver Games in February.
"I'll play two more games before I decide what's going to happen," Forsberg said after his latest comeback. "I have all doors open. Of course, I want to play with Modo, with Sweden in the world championship and the Olympics, and also return to the NHL."
Forsberg had a more successful second game as he scored the game-winner in overtime and set up the other goal Saturday as Modo edged Djurgården 2-1.
“It was fun to score the game-winner on away ice and in overtime,” Forsberg said. “I have hardly played any games in the last three years, so it was a long time since I scored a game-winner.”
Djurgården took the lead after just 2:02 when Andreas Engqvist scored a power-play goal.
Forsberg set up Magnus Häggström’s equalizer with a perfect pass that went between the legs of a Djurgården defenseman at 14:08 in the same period.
It was the only win for Modo in its first four games. HV 71 grabbed the early lead, racing out to a perfect 4-0-0 record. Defending champions Färjestad and Frölunda were right behind at 3-0-1.
Peter Forsberg banks in the game-winning shot Sept. 24 against Djurgården. Bildbyran photo