Revive the ghost of John Facenda! We need a smoky voice over for this segment!
"Hockey fans in Colorado will forever remember this day. This day when their prodigal son returned home..."
I remember where I was when Peter Forsberg left. It rained. Hard.
"The jerk...the traitor!" I mumbled as I swung my car through the gridlock of frightened Californian transplants on my way home from work, my phone blowing up with calls from angry friends looking for an answer which I couldn't provide. There weren't any answers. They just didn't exist. He left.
That was it for me. The day the energy got sucked from the Pepsi Center.
Certainly hockey in the Mile High City would roll on. We tried. But still, they...who am I kidding, WE were missing a certain fiery Swede. The man who scared the crap out of everyone while controlling the game like few others could. And that was what few people outside of Denver seemed to understand, that nobody carried a hockey presence like Forsberg. Not Sakic. Not even Bourque seemed to measure up to the phenomenon that was Peter the Great.
I couldn't understand his thinking the day he left. Why would he leave for just over a million bucks more? Why didn't management give him more money? What did he need that extra million for? Didn't he already own half of Sweden? And why did Footer think he had to leave too? What the hell?!
I've hated the damn salary cap every day since. Our team that showed the world that Colorado was a hockey state was torn apart before our very eyes, as parity settled in like a dense fog.
Then the rains came.
Sure, there were the teams that survived after the lock out. Detroit and Ottawa come to mind. But those teams got lucky in the draft and were able to have home grown talent ready when the Big Crunch set in. Unfortunately the Avs did not after the "Cold War" of the late 90's. They had work to do after the exodus, which only seemed to finally end after Blake left.
They hit the draft hard, and came up with some gems like Stastny and Cumiskey.
They cut away one bad goalie (Abby) for what turned out to be a good one (Theo).
They scored big in free agency with Smyth and Hannan.
They did everything in their power to keep the Avs in the minds of the fickle Bronco fans who only seemed to care when the Cup was on the line. Oh and the Rockies made the Series...yay!
Try as they might, the Avs just couldn't draw as well as when the big guy was in the house, and they weren't exactly blowing away the people who showed up either...
Why only last season, playing for that team from Tennessee, as Pedro was quietly putting the boys out of the playoffs with a two assist night, the love was still there in the form of a compilation of highlights on the big board at The Can. The Avs knew it. The fans knew it. Maybe even Forsberg knew it. Things just weren't the same without #21. Maybe he would come back one day?
Avs fans became like jaded lovers.
The teams he went to didn't make any sense. They didn't fit. Philly and Nashville? Really?
There was no other place where he should be playing. Ever!
But things got worse. There he was this year, dragging his bum feet around Sweden probably to never see American ice again, never to retire an Av. Things looked lost to him. They looked lost to an injury riddled Avs team as well, who were good at times but still didn't have that "spark".
I had almost written off the Avs for this season. They seemed a year away. And just when things looked their worst a day after an embarrassing loss to the Oilers, the rains stopped and the clouds parted.
The Avalanche organization is notoriously quiet, so predicting what they are going to do is something that is better left to The Psychic Friends Network or the Toronto Maple Leafs Rumour Factory Bar N' Grill.
First he was in Ottawa...then he was in Philly...then he was going back to Nashville for some reason...then he was going to Detroit...then he was all but inked in Philly...then he was out of hockey...then I stopped paying attention...and then, cerifiably, miraculously, the boys got their spark back in one fell swoop.
Peter Forsberg is once again an Avalanche.
Now the healing can begin.
Welcome back old friend.