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Flyers acknowledge Hall of Famer Forsberg

The Philadelphia career of Peter Forsberg was short but memorable.

Former Flyers captain Peter Forsberg. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)
Former Flyers captain Peter Forsberg. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)Read more

CRAIG BERUBE was a rookie assistant coach in 2006-07; a mostly forgettable Flyers season, but one unforgettable story remains from the legacy of Peter Forsberg.

The Flyers were mired in last place in the league in the franchise's worst season on record. It was January and Forsberg had been in and out of the lineup with a chronic foot injury.

During the first intermission of a Jan. 13, 2007 game against the Penguins, head coach John Stevens called the Flyers' first line into his office for a quick chat.

"Peter was clearly upset because of the way he was playing at the time and he said, 'You know what? I don't know if I can play anymore,' " Berube recalled. "I heard that come out of his mouth."

The puck dropped in the second period. Forsberg, then 33, went back out on the ice.

"He knocked one guy out with a hit," Berube said, "and scored a goal."

The Flyers lost to Pittsburgh by a 5-3 margin that afternoon, but the second period was an indelible glimpse into Forsberg's greatness.

After the game, Forsberg casually walked by the coaches' office and said: "I'll let you know if I'm going to play tomorrow or not . . . or if I'm going to quit."

Berube and the rest of the coaches laughed.

"We were like, 'I hope he is playing,' " Berube said. "True story. He was a great competitor and 75-80 percent wasn't good enough for him. He wanted to play at 100 percent."

Forsberg, now 41, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last month. The Flyers honored him before last night's game against Tampa Bay with a ceremonial puck drop.

He played just 100 regular-season games with the Flyers - less than 15 percent of his career - but felt indebted to the organization. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Forsberg apologized to the Flyers and Nashville Predators and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't do more."

The truth is, though, he did just about everything possible to overcome his chronic foot problems. There were reports that he went through nearly 700 pairs of skates in his two seasons with the Flyers to find one that worked.

"I think maybe the craziest thing was sawing the entire heel bone off and moving it over," Forsberg said last night. "Then when that didn't work, we decided to cut it off again. It's harder the second time, because I had screws in there the second time and it was hard to move it. To be honest, I did everything.

"A lot of games, I thought I wasn't going to do that good and then I was able to play anyway. But it was frustrating. I wanted to do better here than I did. Not playing hurt."

Forsberg still ended up collecting 115 points in 100 regular-season games as a Flyer, one of only a handful of players in club history to be better than a point-per-game with a minimum of 50 games played.

He credited Flyers assistant equipment manager Harry Bricker for his help, going through so many different pairs of skates. During that season, Forsberg kept Bricker at the team's practice rink from early in the morning to 9 o'clock at night on Thanksgiving.

"I still feel bad about that," Forsberg said.

"I felt I could have done so much better," Forsberg said. "The second year wasn't much better. I had a good time here. It's an organization that wanted to win. That's why it was so hard to play here and we didn't win. The first year [in 2005-06] when we were winning was some of my best times as a hockey player."

Forsberg was drafted by the Flyers (sixth overall) in 1991 and actually had conversations about coming over from Sweden to play in the NHL in 1992, but ended up being a part of that haul to Quebec in 1993 for Eric Lindros. He went on to win two Stanley Cups after moving to Colorado with the Nordiques.

"It could've been a real good run here, too, but I ended up in a real good organization that had real good players coming through and I got to play on a winning team," Forsberg said. "I can't complain. But I did watch the Flyers my whole career. It's hard to say if we would have won with me here. But maybe. I would like to say yes."

Flyers hire scout

The Flyers hired Rick Pracey as an amateur scout this week. Pracey, 45, was fired by the Avalanche in October after a successful run as Colorado's director of amateur scouting.

The Avalanche were rebuilt as a playoff team with the help of draft picks Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog - all of whom came under Pracey's watch.

Pracey also oversaw a staff that nabbed Ryan O'Reilly in the second round (33rd overall) and Tyson Barrie in the third round (64th) in 2009.

The Avalanche declined to comment on Pracey's departure. Subsequent reports, however, linked Pracey's falling out to his predating coach/VP hockey operations Patrick Roy and the fact that the Avalanche did not have MacKinnon ranked as the No. 1 prospect when Roy took over.

With the Flyers, Pracey will report to director of scouting Chris Pryor. The Flyers have one of the largest scouting staffs in the NHL, comprised of 12 amateur scouts, two college scouts, four pro scouts, head pro scout Dave Brown, Pryor and scouting consultant Bill Barber.