IT'S HARD TO TELL what's more annoying: the Peter Forsberg saga in Europe or the attention that "Jon and Kate Plus 8" is still getting.
Both Forsberg and the Gosselins need to go away for a long, long time.
Forsberg's name now has run through the hockey-rumor washing machine so many times that people are numb to it. That's sad. Some actually believe that Forsberg's nagging, never-right foot and ankle injury is healed. That's sadder.
On Tuesday, news that Forsberg was considering signing with Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Kontinental League flew to the hockey world faster than a Chris Pronger slap shot.
Forsberg, who is skating for Sweden in Helsinki, Finland, this week in the Karjala Cup, reportedly has already agreed to terms on a contract for mega bucks and multiple years.
Ask Ray Emery about the KHL; it wasn't a fun place.
That's fortunate. I'm tired of hearing that Forsberg could possibly find a home in the NHL. He got his last chance when he swore to Colorado that he was healthy two seasons ago. The Avalanche spent a boatload of money on him to play a grand total of 13 games.
If he were healthy, wouldn't he have played more than six games for his hometown team, MoDo, in Sweden, since he last skated in the NHL?
As first reported in the Daily News in September, the Flyers have zero interest in Forsberg. That much has not changed, two different NHL sources confirmed on Tuesday. Reports surfaced this week that the Flyers sent European scout Ilkka Sinisalo to Helsinki to watch Forsberg. Instead, Sinisalo had planned to attend the tournament before Forsberg committed.
When he is healthy, Forsberg is undoubtedly one of the best in the game. There's no arguing that. He may be the best passer to ever wear the Flyers' threads.
But why does this team need him? Even without Simon Gagne and Danny Briere, and the possible cap space that comes with that, the Flyers have depth at forward that most NHL teams would kill to have. Their power play, operating at a brisk 28.6 percent, is tops in the league.
What they don't need is a complex and distracting personality in an already unpredictable and impressionable locker room.
The same goes for Brendan Shanahan. Refuting other reports, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said last week that the Flyers have no interest in him, either. Why would they want to take a flier on a well-past-his-prime winger who the offensively challenged Devils couldn't find a use for?
Playing in the Olympics for Sweden is one thing. But in professional sports, sometimes the best move is the one you don't make.
In that case, so long Peter. Don't forget your parka in Tartarstan.
* After Sunday's Canucks-Avalanche game in Vancouver, a brawl broke out outside the gates of GM Place. According to news reports, one fan started smashing people with beer bottles. An outsider who tried to break up the fight was later stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle. Luckily, the injuries were minor. Sounds like a great place to host the Olympics in 99 days.
* Have some extra cash? You and your beer-league buddies can head up to Fenway Park to carve up the same ice that the Flyers and Bruins will skate on in the New Year's Day Winter Classic. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that the Red Sox are renting the ice for $7,000 to 10,000 per hour. That's pretty steep considering that ice at your local rink will run you somewhere between $200-400 for 60 minutes. The ice is slated to be ready for Dec. 18. Think the Sox will have a hard time selling the ice at those prices? Even in a recession, they told the Globe that there are more requests than hours.
* The junior Ontario Hockey League suspended Erie Otters forward Michael Liambas, 20, for the remainder of the regular season and the playoffs for his hit on 16-year-old Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ben Fanelli. Liambas crushed Fanelli from behind, his face bounced off the glass, fracturing his skull and multiple bones in his face. Doctors say that Fanelli is lucky to be breathing on his own - yet another wake-up call for hockey to discipline shots to the head.
It didn't take long for the Flyers to be hit with the flu bug. Five players missed practice yesterday: Arron Asham, Matt Carle and Dan Carcillo, plus Danny Briere and Ryan Parent, who are nursing lower-body injuries. Jeff Carter did not speak to the media after Monday's game because he is under the weather, but he still practiced . . . Briere is still day-to-day with his lower groin injury that borders his quadriceps.
BY THE NUMBERS:
6: Games James van Riemsdyk, the NHL's leading scorer among rookies (13 points, 10 games), has in hand over the next closest rookie (Rangers' Michael Del Zotto, 12 points, 16 games).
10: Times the Flyers have scored first in 12 games. They are 7-2-1 with the early lead.
Plus-11: Matt Carle's plus/minus rating, which is second among all NHL players. He is also fourth in team scoring with 12 points.
23: Man-games lost to injury this season. Simon Gagne, Danny Briere and Ryan Parent are currently sidelined. The Flyers lost 330 man-games to injury last season.
THE WEEK AHEAD:
at Buffalo, Tomorrow, 7:30 p.m.: Before being routed by the not-so-bad New York Islanders, 5-0, on Halloween, Buffalo had reeled off four wins in a row. The Sabres surprisingly sit at the top of the Northeast Division standings but haven't yet faced a stiff test. Buffalo isn't a high-scoring team but it has some bite. Watch out for 19-year-old rookie defenseman Tyler Myers, who has been a pleasant surprise.
Vs. St. Louis, Saturday, 7 p.m.: Just two seasons ago, the St. Louis Blues were doing just that - singing the blues. They finished 26th in the NHL, at the bottom of the West's Central Division. Thanks to an astounding second-half run last year, the Bluenotes finished third in arguably the NHL's toughest division and sixth in the West. This year, it's too early to tell what direction the Blues will go. St. Louis swept Detroit in Stockholm, Sweden, to open the season but are just 3-6-1 since then, with wins over Carolina, Minnesota and Anaheim. They are a young and exciting team to watch, led by old-timers Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya.
The Phantoms captured a 4-2 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers yesterday morning in Connecticut. The 11 a.m. start time was part of Fun 101 day, an educational opportunity for school-aged children. Yesterday's two points pushed Adirondack into second place in the East Division. Jon Matsumoto leads the Phantoms in points (12), goals (5) and assists (7), though the 4-year AHL vet has never gotten a call-up. Johan Backlund has been sharp in net with a 5-2-0 mark and a 2.27 GAA.