DENVER | The typically stoic Peter Forsberg was quite emotional as he announced he was stepping away from hockey because of a bothersome right foot that left him vulnerable on the ice.
Flanked by his fiancee, Forsberg choked up several times Monday as he pulled the plug on his latest comeback attempt after playing in just two games with the Colorado Avalanche.
He acknowledged he’s through with the game, saying he “can’t do it anymore.” He leaves with few regrets, despite feeling “like a little kid that had candy stolen.”
The former NHL MVP has been plagued by a chronic foot ailment since 2003, robbing him of chunks of his career.
But he wanted one last go-round, just to see if he could still play on the NHL level. He began skating with the team on Jan. 22 to test out the foot.
Then, just one week ago, Forsberg signed a $1 million prorated deal to play the rest of the season for the team he helped lead to two Stanley Cup titles.
After an initial visa delay, Forsberg played in two road games with Colorado last week, scoring no points in more than 35 minutes of ice time.
With the foot acting up again, the 37-year-old reached the decision Sunday to step away.
At least he had the closure he was seeking.
“I’m really happy that I got the chance with the Avalanche to come back here and try for the last time and put an end to it,” said Forsberg, who will have his No. 21 sweater retired by the team at some point next season. “Knowing for fact, 100 percent sure, that I’m not going to play anymore.
“Maybe I was selfish to come over, but in the back of my mind it feels good now. I feel like I’m ready to retire.”
His teammates were caught off guard by his abrupt decision. Captain Adam Foote even had a long chat with Forsberg on the plane ride home from Nashville and never once did the Swedish star bring up his troublesome foot.
“I’m surprised because of the way he played. I thought he played really good,” Foote said of his longtime teammate. “Obviously, he thinks after the two games he’s not going to be able to help us moving forward.
“As far as me selfishly, I want to say, ‘Yeah, you can help us. I saw the way you played.’ But if his foot is that bad and hurting him, that’s a problem I can’t fix or he probably can’t fix. That’s got to be frustrating for him.”
That foot has frustrated Forsberg to no end. He has tried everything to get it right — multiple surgeries, different skates and an assortment of braces.