Kukla's Korner Hockey
by cgormley on 02/07/07 at 12:26 AM ET
Many of you may be familar with the name Chuck Gormley, the Philadelphia Flyers beat writer for the South Jersey Courier-Post and also of NHL.com, where he does a weekly Atlantic Division feature.
Tonight, Chuck begins posting at Kukla’s Korner too.- Paul
By Chuck Gormley
South Jersey Courier-Post
With 20 days remaining until the NHL trade deadline, there are only two ways the Flyers and Peter Forsberg can end speculation that the 33-year-old Swedish center will remain in Philadelphia for the rest of this season.
One, the Flyers can say they are not trading Forsberg. Two, Forsberg can refuse to lift his no-trade clause.
Neither has happened and as a result, the entire hockey world is speculating which uniform Forsberg will be wearing on Feb. 27. Will he be a Red Wing? A Shark? A Duck? An Avalanche? Or, will he remain a Flyer?
“You can wonder all you want,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Tuesday. “That’s one great thing about America.”
Holmgren categorically denied reports that Forsberg gave him permission to begin taking trade offers from other teams.
“That’s bull,” Holmgren said.
Holmgren said Forsberg knows the Flyers want to re-sign him and they will try to do that next week when team chairman Ed Snider returns from a business trip in California. Snider, who is due to return on Sunday, said he is not interested in trading Forsberg, then trying to re-sign him when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Snider believes Forsberg is an integral part of the Flyers’ rebuilding plans and will try to convince his captain to remain in Philadelphia when the two meet next week.
“I think that’s what he wants to say, that they’re going to put the best team on the ice next year,” Forsberg said. “I never doubted that. I know how he is and he wants to win badly. It’s great to play for an owner that feels that way. We’ll see what happens. I’d like to sit down and hear it from him.”
Forsberg has been increasingly perturbed by the daily questions regarding his future with the Flyers, but he has helped fuel the speculation by not telling the team he will play in Philadelphia and nowhere else.
“We’ll sit down,” Forsberg said, “and see what they want to do and what I want to do.”
It is clear the Flyers want to re-sign Forsberg, presumably for two more seasons at about $4 million each season.
“He knows our intentions,” Holmgren said “We’ve stated it right from the get-go.”
What remains unclear is whether Forsberg wants to remain on a team that is destined to finish with the NHL’s worst record and miss the playoffs for the first time in his accomplished career.
Snider will try to convince Forsberg to stay by saying the Flyers will be active in the free-agent market, targeting forwards Daniel Briere, Scott Gomez and Chris Drury and defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Sheldon Souray.
Snider realizes having Forsberg under contract for two more years would automatically make Philadelphia an attractive destination for those free agents. Not having him could make the Flyers’ road to recovery longer and more treacherous.
Forsberg appears to have cleared a major hurdle that has delayed negotiations. Since returning from the All-Star break, when he made adjustments to his right skate, Forsberg has been a force on the ice.“He’s been a real bull on the puck,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “He fights people off, he loses checks, he works. He just has stability on his feet. He sure looks better.”
That’s good news for the Flyers if they decide to keep Forsberg. It’s also good news for an NHL team that is interested in acquiring Forsberg for a playoff run.
On Monday, Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios said he would love to have Forsberg as a teammate and that with the Flyers out of the playoff race, it made sense for Forsberg to want to go to Detroit for the stretch run, where he would be reunited with countryman Nicklas Lidstrom.
San Jose, Anaheim and Colorado are also attractive destinations and adding a player of Forsberg’s caliber, especially if he’s healthy, will greatly enhance their chances of winning a Stanley Cup.
Holmgren said he wants Forsberg only if Forsberg wants to stay. If Forsberg indicates he would like to play for a contender, the Flyers would need from him a list of teams he’d play for, then conduct a bidding war among those teams.
“In my opinion, there’s no real rush,” Holmgren said. “We want to do everything in our power to see if we can re-sign Peter. And if that’s not going to work, we have to look at other avenues.”
There is no question which side of the fence Stevens sits.
“He’s arguably one of the best players in the world – still,” Stevens said. “You absolutely want him on your team. He makes people around him better. He’s just a treat to have on your hockey team.
“Everyone is working hard trying to figure out what’s best and Homer has nothing but the best interests of the hockey team at heart. Whatever decision he makes will be the right decision.”
As for Forsberg, he understands all of this trade talk would end if he told the Flyers he is going nowhere.
“I know,” he said.
So, why hasn’t he?
“Good question,” he responded.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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