04.27.08

Hockey’s Swedish Hamlet Answers Question in Game 2: “Not To Be”

Posted in Hockey, Medical Science at 1:34 pm by

Terrell Owens causing problems in the Eagles locker room. Billy Gillispie leaving Texas A&M. Walt Jocketty becoming Reds GM. To this list of “least surprising stories ever,” we can now add Peter Forsberg’s health. From Terry Frei of the Denver Post:

Forsberg has become more trouble than he is worth. His unreliability is demoralizing.

It raised eyebrows when he was in and out of the lineup down the stretch of the regular season after signing with Colorado on Feb. 2

This raises doubts.

At this time of year, in the most relentlessly testing of professional sports’ postseasons, any skepticism ” even subconscious ” about a teammate’s resolve is a major problem.

The on-ice impact of Forsberg’s absence is significant, especially given the Avalanche’s struggles to mount pressure on Detroit goalie Chris Osgood through two games.

But the dulling of the Avs’ emotional edge is even more debilitating.

The caveat: Only one man knows the extent of Forsberg’s pain, whether in his long-troublesome ankle or his groin ” or both. And that’s Forsberg, who wasn’t made available to the media after the Avalanche’s 5-1 thrashing in Game 2.

His Colorado teammates refused to criticize Forsberg after the loss. Perhaps they also understood that they had been so thoroughly outplayed, it was embarrassing. They drew brain-lock penalties and seemingly were more concerned with showy displays of message-sending passion than emotion channeled into such things as bothering to make the Wings pay for going to the net.

Am I saying that Forsberg, among the grittiest of NHL players in the past, lost his heart as well as his spleen? Of course not. He’s proven his grit, his resilience, his courage, and displayed a high pain threshold in the past.

But at some point the past becomes irrelevant, and you have to suck it up and play. Now.

Or not. The nightly “will-he/won’t-he?” dance is worse than simply going on without him. But since everyone in hockey saw this happen on the Flyers for the past two years, and Forsberg himself never really came out with an “I feel great!” upon returning, the blame here ought to be directed at the Avs’ front office.

Except that with a Stanley Cup in Denver quite unlikely either way, I reckon that the franchise got exactly what it wanted: box office buzz, accompanied by a coin flip’s chance that he could make a difference (which he did, in the first round).

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