Monday, February 14, 2011

Peter Forsberg’s Remaining Functional Body Parts Join Ankle, Spleen in Retirement

Oft-injured and distressingly1 handsome Colorado Avalanche forward Peter Forsberg—a two-time Olympic gold medalist,2 two-time Stanley Cup winner, and 2003 National Hockey League Most Valuable Player—announced his official retirement from the National Hockey League on Monday, February 14, 2011, in an afternoon press conference in Denver, Colorado. 

“I played hockey my whole life,” Forsberg said, according to the Denver Post. ”But I decided I've played my final game.”

Forsberg’s latest comeback attempt began, as far as local fans were concerned, on January 22, 2011, when he practiced in Denver with injured Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly and assistant coach Steve Konowalchuk. After skating with the team for several weeks, he signed a contract on February 6; loitered temporarily in limbo—or perhaps Phoenix, Arizona, it’s hard to tell the difference—until his visa issues were sorted out; and hit the ice against the Blue Jackets and Predators on February 11th and 12th, respectively. Eight days later, his hockey career was once again—and officially this time, perhaps, unless things change—over for good. Probably. 

Peter Forsberg may not be our favorite Swede of all time—that spot is already occupied—but he’s definitely right up there near the top. While we at Bowling in the Dark are disappointed that our tickets to Wednesday’s Avalanche game (which we’ve had for several months—no fair-weather fans here) are now somewhat less exciting than they were, say, four days ago,3 we sincerely wish Peter Forsberg the best in his retirement. We hope he finds a new calling that provides as much satisfaction as playing hockey has given for so much of his life. Perhaps our most sincere hope is that he fades from the limelight gracefully and professionally, and refuses to follow in the footsteps of other recently/often-retired athletes when looking for that satisfaction. Ahem.

Forsberg’s rare combination of strength; willingness to play (and excel at) a hard-hitting physical game; soft hands;4 great vision; and exceptional sense of the ebb, flow, and movement of the game made him an exceptional playmaker and arguably the best two-way center of his era.5 It’s likely, though, that his physical style of play contributed to the injury problems that plagued the later stages of his career and forced him to quit the game several times. He missed the entire 2001-02 season after having an emergency splenectomy in the midst of the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs, and the surgeries on his flawed and chronically pained feet and ankles are believed to number at least a dozen.

Forsberg’s ankle spoke haltingly but with pride about his long-term association with those parts of Forsberg that continue to function properly: “I’m glad we gave it one more shot, but I think we’re done,” it said. “By which I mean I hope to God we’re done, and I mean forever. Frankly, I was done with the game years ago, and could have sworn I’d made myself clear on that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take about two dozen Advil and lie down for a while, preferably for the rest of my life.”

Peter Forsberg’s spleen, possibly.
Reached for comment at its home in Miami, Peter Forsberg’s spleen expressed sadness at his former body’s retirement, but hope for a potential reunion: “We had some good times together, Foppa and me,” it said. ”Near the end there, I was just dead weight, he did better without me. But it sure would be good to get together again, now that he’s got the time, maybe filter some blood cells together, just like we did in the old days.”

Peter Forsberg’s spleen spends most of its time playing cribbage with other long-abandoned parts of retired and current NHL players, including Eric Lindros’s brain, Tyler Arnasons heart, and Claude Lemieux's courage.6

1. Distressing to us, anyway. Mrs. Some Guy doesn’t seem to mind.
2. In addition to winning the Olympic gold as a member of the 1994 and 2006 Swedish men’s hockey teams, Forsberg also won an honorary medal for the little-known subcategory of Goaltender Humiliation
3. Or, for that matter, just four hours ago, before the Avalanche had started getting pounded by the Calgary Flames.
4. We’re not referring to his use of hand lotion—this is a hockey term. It means that Forsberg had very good puck-handling skills in terms of passing, stick-handling, and dekeing goaltenders. We don’t have the slightest clue whether he prefers Jergens to Neutrogena, and hope to keep it that way.
5. The Detroit Red Wings’ supremely talented Sergei Fedorov deserves consideration in this argument, perhaps the only case against him being the occasional game where he just didn’t seem to give a crap.
6. This Wizard of Oz metaphor leads us to wonder who in the NHL would represent Toto, the runty little mutt that serves no purpose other than as a constantly yapping, inescapable, annoying little shit. The frontrunner, quite obviously, is Sean Avery. 

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