I know that when he first announced that he was going to skate with the Avalanche to determine if a comeback was possible, I was a bit harsh in my feelings, and those feelings haven't gone away. But despite Forsberg not being my favorite Avalanche player (that honor, admittedly, goes to Joe Sakic), I would be remiss to not appreciate his career with the Avalanche.
I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but I do know that having Forsberg in the lineup almost guaranteed you a win, and more often than not, if he had a point, the Avalanche did win. And before groin, abdominal, and ankle injuries derailed his career, Forsberg was a force to be reckoned with.
He could split an opponent's defense at will, and he wasn't afraid to hit and be hit, and his hockey sense was unequaled by almost anyone but Joe Sakic. Which is perhaps why Sakic and Forsberg made not only a terrific duo at center, but as a tandem no opponent wanted to play against when they did pair up on the same line. I remember one play in particular in the 2004 playoffs. It was game five against San Jose, in overtime, and Forsberg dug the puck out of the corner and made a blind pass behind him that landed perfectly on Sakic's tape for the OT game winner. It was a beautiful play.
Two Olympic gold medals, two Stanley Cups, a Calder, Hart, and Art Ross trophy to his name ... that is what Forsberg's legacy should be. It should be those plays where Forsberg just knew where the puck needed to go. It should be that shootout goal that earned him the honor of being immortalized on a Swedish postage stamp.
I can't say that know exactly how Forsberg felt when he announced his retirement, but after repeated attempts to make a comeback, I can imagine how hard it had to be for Peter to finally admit defeat. That will to win, that will to battle made him the player that he was.
Now all that is left is for the Avalanche to set the date for Peter's number to be retired. And while he wasn't my favorite, and he could frustrate the absolute hell out of me, you can bet that I'll be there.
Peter will be missed. But Avs fans, even this one, will always have plenty of memories of a player who had so many gifts and who brought so much to this game.