One of the most dominant players of his era until injuries curtailed his career, Peter Forsberg can boast of hugely successful careers in both the National Hockey League and representing his homeland in international competition.
Peter Forsberg was born July 20, 1973 in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. After starring with Modo Hockey, the junior squad in his hometown, Forsberg was drafted sixth overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. But that year, there was a great deal of drama. Eric Lindros, long recognized as the top pick in that draft, had warned the Quebec Nordiques, who were selecting first overall, that if they chose him, he would refuse to play for them. The Nordiques chose him with their first overall selection anyway, much to the dismay of the Lindros family. Lindros stuck to his statement and held out for over a year. Exasperated that they couldn't sign the young phenom, Quebec offered Lindros for sale, finally consummating a deal in June 1992 that saw the Philadelphia Flyers send five players, two first round draft choices and a staggering $15 million to the Nordiques in exchange for Lindros. Forsberg was one of the keys to the trade for Quebec; reluctantly dealt by Philadelphia. The trade now is regarded as one of the most one-sided deals in hockey history, and setup the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise for the next decade.
Forsberg remained playing for Modo for the next three years. In 1993, Forsberg was named the Swedish player of the year and the most valuable player as decided by the players. He won both awards again the next season.
During the summer of 1994, Forsberg signed a contract with the Quebec Nordiques, and while ready to make his National Hockey League, the start was delayed due to a lock-out. Instead, Forsberg returned to Sweden and played for Modo until the lock-out ended in January 1995. Once the agreement had been signed, Forsberg travelled to North America to join Quebec.
The Nordiques finished first in the Northeast Division, aided by Forsberg's 50 points in the shortened season. At the conclusion of the season, he was chosen as the NHL's rookie of the year and was awarded the Calder Trophy, as well as a berth on the NHL's All-Rookie Team.
That summer, the Nordiques' ownership sold the team, which was moved to Denver, Colorado as the Colorado Avalanche before the 1995-96 season. That season, Forsberg finished fifth in league scoring with 116 points, and the team finished atop the Pacific Division, then went on to capture the Stanley Cup.
The Avalanche finished first overall in 1996-97, and while Forsberg contributed significantly, an injury reduced the number of games in which he could play. It was a harbinger of things to come for the power forward.
The Avalanche won a second Stanley Cup championship in 2001, but Forsberg had his spleen removed during the post-season and was unable to play after the second round. The injury was serious enough that he sat out the 2001-02 season, but returned to lead the playoffs in scoring.
Healthy and rested, Peter Forsberg led the NHL in scoring with 106 points in 2002-03, earning him the Art Ross Trophy. He was also awarded the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.
The NHL faced another lock-out in 2004-05, so Forsberg again returned to Sweden and played for Modo Hockey, but a broken hand limited his play. The season ended and the lock-out remedied, so Forsberg returned to the NHL. But the Avalanche faced salary cap issues in the 'new NHL' of 2005-06, so they sacrificed Forsberg in order to sign Rob Blake and Joe Sakic. Forsberg, in turn, signed a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. In spite of injuries to his ankle and groin, he still recorded 75 points during his shortened season.
During the summer of 2006, Forsberg was named captain of the Flyers, but at the trade deadline of another season plagued by injury, Philadelphia traded him to the Nashville Predators in an experiment that lasted but 17 games.
His career was put on hold following surgery on his foot, and then in February 2008, Forsberg returned to the Colorado Avalanche as a free agent, but a groin injury curtailed his effectiveness. He returned to Sweden and played with MODO in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
In February 2011, Forsberg attempted a comeback in the NHL, and once again joined the Avalanche, but his return lasted just two games. On February 14, 2011, just before he was scheduled to play in front of the Avalanche's home fans for the first time during this comeback, he announced his retirement. His foot problems were severe enough that he was unable to play in the manner which he once had been able.
Peter Forsberg concluded his career having played 708 regular season games in which he collected 885 points on 249 goals and 636 assists. At the time of his retirement, the three-time NHL First Team All-Star (1998, 1999 and 2003) stood eighth all-time in NHL career points per game, and fifth all-time in NHL career assists per game. The Colorado Avalanche retired Peter Forsberg's jersey on October 8, 2011 prior to the Avalanche's 2011-12 home opener.
Peter Forsberg also represented Sweden in international play, including four Olympic Winter Games, at which he won gold medals in 1994 and 2006, and five World Championships, which included gold medals in 1992 and 1998 as well as silver in 1993, 2003 and 2004. Combined with the Stanley Cup championships won with Colorado, Forsberg is a member of the Triple Gold Club, an elite group of athletes whose careers have included a Stanley Cup championship, Olympic gold and a World Championship gold medal.