Saturday, September 18, 2010

Around The Rink: Training Camp Edition

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Earth to Forsberg: Go Away

With the 15th anniversary of the Colorado Avalanche's first Stanley Cup season fast approaching, attention in the hockey world earlier this week was shifted to only one key piece to that winning puzzle.

Peter Forsberg.

Namely, Peter Forsberg once again not ruling out a return to the NHL.

Never mind about the Avs' 1996 Cup win giving Denver its first pro sports title, and forget that all but two players whose names are engraved on the trophy will attend a reunion on October 7 for Colorado's home opener.

It's now, for the umpteenth time, about Forsberg and the will-he, won't-he saga surrounding his maybe healed possibly balky heels and feet and his vain attempts at achieving closure.

Frankly, he needs to pack it in and go away. Once and for all. He's 37. Time has a way with regular people, not to mention athletes who can't get it through their heads that time ravages even the best of bodies, and renders them less responsive over time after prolonged rest.

While we can certainly lament the fact that Forsberg's rough edge, infused with enough finesse to placate all critics, played havoc with his health, we shouldn't take part anymore in the endless speculation.

After all, it was his choice to try and reverse decades of North American prejudice against European skaters by taking the ice like a cannonball. He sustained all the critical damage while blowing through defenses like a
hurricane through a barrier island; he has to wake up and figure out that four years sown the line, his situation isn't going to magically reverse.

If he thinks time is a healer, and that his wounds are not the same, he's in for a rude awakening.

I think we can all see his stake in a comeback. Whether it's about leaving a job, ending a relationship, moving to another city or losing a friendship, humans as emotional beings want to have things wrapped up in a bow. Reality rarely affords the opportunity, though, and we all have to learn to move on.

When that's crossed with a star athlete's ego and often warped perception of what he has to offer, the situation gets more difficult to handle.

Forsberg was limited to 16 combined games with Colorado three seasons ago and has only played in 26 games over the last two years with MoDo of the Swedish Elite League.

The writing's on the wall. Whether it's in English or Swedish, it's time for Foppa to translate it as the truth. It's time for him to find a river to skate away on.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern dead. Pat Burns still alive.


The whole world was fooled on Friday by erroneous reports of the death of three-time NHL Coach of the Year Pat Burns.

Burns, at 58 and ravaged by three bouts with potent and recurring cancer, returned home to Quebec's Eastern Townships (the part of the province south and east of the St. Lawrence River and north of the U.S. border) not too long ago to spend time with family.

While it's clear he may not have much time left, the churlish ex-cop had some choice words to say over the incorrect announcements of his demise.

Bob McKenzie of TSN in Canada elicited a classic response: "Here we go again. "They're trying to kill me before I'm dead. I come to Quebec to spend some time with my family and they say I'm dead. I'm not dead, far (expletive) from it. They've had me dead since June. Tell them I'm alive. Set them straight."

This is the downside of internet reporting. A friend of a friend who swears by a source somewhere legit has a story, and it gets picked up by multiple blogs and twitter feeds which is filtered up to the top echelon of media. This time, the Toronto Star was apparently to blame.

Cue retractions and hastily cobbled-together apologies.

Burns is gonna go when he's good and ready and not a second before.

Debbie Downer Strikes Again

OK, I know there's more than the usual optimism heading into this year because of the Flyers' surprise run to the Stanley Cup Finals last June, but some disturbing stats exist that demonstrate the 2010-11 team may be set up for a fall.

Since winning the Cup in 1975, the Flyers have suffered some heartbreaking and inexplicable defeats each season following a title-round appearance.

In 1976, it was the dynastic Canadiens hanging a four-game loss on Philly to win the Cup. Five years later, Calgary won a second-round Game 7 at the Spectrum.

John Vanbiesbrouck's Stretch Armstrong impression sent the Flyers home in a deciding first-round Game 5 against the hated Rangers in 1986, then in 1998, Dominik Hasek and the Sabres pinned a first-round five-game loss on the franchise. 
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