Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Forsberg talks Philly return

On Tuesday night, former Flyers draft pick and eventual Flyers center Peter Forsberg returned to Philadelphia as a newly-minted man: a Hockey Hall-of-Fame inductee.

The native of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden was famously one of the ransomed players the Sniders and then-GM Russ Farwell provided to the Quebec Nordiques in the Eric Lindros deal of June, 1992. He made his way back to this city as a free agent at the start of the 2005-06 season, well after he made his mark as an NHLer with the Nords as  Calder Trophy winner in 1995 and then as a two-time Stanley Cup champion and league scoring leader for the Colorado Avalanche.

"Foppa" spent exactly 100 regular-season games with the Orange and Black, where he recorded 30 goals and 85 assists. He added eight points in his lone postseason effort with the franchise, a six-game first-round loss to the Buffalo Sabres in the Spring of '06. 

He was ransomed once more in February of 2007 to the Nashville Predators, and his return netted the Flyers forward Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and the ability to snag Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell later that year.

Below is a full transcript of his remarks during the Flyers-Lightning contest.

What are some of your favorite memories from here?
Well when I got here, it was a special feeling because I got drafted by the Flyers back in the day. And I knew how they wanted guys to play, you know with Clarkie and everybody, and a little physical. And I thought my play would fit here. So when I got here, it was a perfect start. 

We played very well. I got to play with Knuble and Gagne. Clicked right off the bat. I think we were leading the league until Christmas and that time was fantastic playing here I have to say. Then we kind of went down. Primeau got hurt. I struggled a bit. And a few other guys got hurt. But in the beginning it was fantastic to be here. Crowds were into it. And I enjoyed that the people here, the fans, enjoyed physical play and winning games. So it was a fun time.

How bad were the injuries and how much did they affect you?
“Well it started really good. Like I said, me and Gagne and that line started really well and we played so well. And it just got worse and worse. And after the first year, I had a big surgery. They actually cut the whole heel off and moved it over. And it didn’t really help. And there were a lot of things going on. And I felt I was struggling a lot but on the other hand I looked at the points and it wasn’t that bad. It was like 115 points in 100 games. 

But on the other hand, I felt like I could have done so much better. So it was a little struggle coming here. And the second year was hard. The team didn’t win and it was hard coming to the games. But I had a good time here. It’s an organization that wanted to win and that’s why it was so hard to play here because we didn’t win. And the fans here wanted it and expected the team to win. So it was a tough time the second year. But like I said for the first part when we were winning, it was one of the best times as a hockey player. The fans enjoy it when you’re winning.”

Have you ever thought what it would have been like if you weren’t traded from the Flyers and you played your career here?
“I don’t think about it. When I played I didn’t think too much about it. But I have to say, Mr. Snider, he wants to win. And I think it could have been a good run too. But I ended up in a good organization that had unbelievable players coming by. And I got to play on a winning team there too. So I can’t complain. But I did watch the Flyers the whole career. And I know they were in the Final the one time there. They were close a few times. But I didn’t think about it too much. Now when I get older I think about it a little more. But not when I played.”

Do you think you would’ve won two Cups if you were here during that time?
“I don’t know. I have no clue. Maybe. It’s hard to say. Here, they always wanted to win. And I think they gave the team a chance to win every single year. It’s hard for me to say if they would’ve won with me or not. I cannot answer that right now. I would like to say yes.”

During those few weeks when the Flyers didn’t know if they were getting Lindros or not, were you following that from Sweden?
No. It was the middle of the summer. I didn’t follow that back home. When I read afterwards it was real close. There was a trade between I think the Rangers or Philly. And they ended up coming here to Philadelphia. And I was part of that group. I don’t know how big of a part I was back then. I don’t know. 

For the Quebec and Colorado Avalanche organization it worked out pretty good. They were a team that was bad for a long time. And then they had a couple of first rounders with Sundin and Nolan. And they got to do that trade and brought in a lot of good players. It turned that organization around and got the money to keep the players down there in Denver too. So it worked out for that. Both teams were good for a few years there. They were close here, and fortunately we were happy and lucky to win a couple down in Colorado.

When the Flyers drafted you [in the first round], it was a surprise they took you that high. Did you get a chance to talk to certain guys about that draft?
Well I talked a lot to my agent afterwards. And like you said, I was going in the beginning of the second round or the end of the first round. And I remember [inaudible] came to me and said Philly is trying to trade down, because they wanted to draft me 14th or 15th. They didn’t think I was going to go that high. But then there were rumors that maybe Hartford was going to take me at number 11. So I didn’t think they wanted to take a chance, so they picked me at number six. I guess Inge [Hammarstrom] had a lot to do with that. I was totally shocked. 

I was a small kid. I didn’t expect to get drafted high. But I came here. We flew right to Philly and I was here. To be honest ‘92 there in the world championship, we were negotiating with the Flyers to come over, but I thought it was too early. So I stayed home a couple of more years. Then they traded me in ‘93. Maybe if I would have signed in ‘92, I would’ve been here most of my career. I think it would have worked out both places for me. This is an organization that spent a lot of money and wanted to win. And I ended up in a place too that had a good team for a long time.

What does it mean to you to be honored by the Flyers tonight?
It means a lot to me actually. Because it feels like every time, I struggle... in my mind, I was kind of struggling. But on the other hand I was happy that they put the numbers on the screen and a couple of hits there. It was not only bad games. Like I said, we had a really good start and I got to play with some good players. And unfortunately, it was not maybe only my fault I was hurt but Primeau went down I think and Rathje got hurt. And they changed the rules a little bit that year too. 

So a few things that were not only my fault, but it was hard here coming the second year when we didn’t win a lot of games. And it was hard to come and I know the fans here expect you to win. And it’s hard to play when you’re not doing as well as you wanted. And me struggling, I missed a few games. I think I missed 16 games the second year too, but when I got traded, I told Mr. Snider [I would go to Nashville], but I had no problem coming back if the foot would’ve worked out. But unfortunately it never worked out again. So I never got the chance to come back.

How come you didn’t want to sign another contract here?
“I didn’t think I was healthy. Otherwise I would’ve stayed. Absolutely. But it was just a struggle for me the second year. Like I said we did the surgery and I wanted to make sure the foot was fine before I signed another deal. But it never turned out. After the first year we talked. But I wanted to see if the foot was fine. And then I started playing and it didn’t really work out as good as I wanted. I could get around. It was not that bad. But I wanted to get better before I signed a new deal. And it didn’t.

I went home and had another surgery and another surgery. And I came back for 13 games in Colorado. And it never really worked out again unfortunately. But it was a good place to play. Like I said, this is a place that wants to win hockey games and they enjoy physical play with winning games. So I thought I was a perfect place for me to play when I signed here in [2005].”
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