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Friday, February 23, 2007

Does Forsberg want to be here?

It's not really fair to be questioning this so soon after such a huge trade, but last night's game has me wondering a bit. Consider this item from John Glennon's recap of the Preds' 6-5 loss to Montreal last night:

Predators Coach Barry Trotz asked center Peter Forsberg whether he wanted to be one of the top three shootout participants against the Canadiens, but Forsberg declined."He said he didn't want to go as one of the first three,'' Trotz said. "He just said it wasn't something he didn't feel real strong about, so I listened to him.''Forsberg was the fourth Predators shooter, but slipped as he neared the Montreal crease and failed to get off a quality attempt.
Peter Forsberg is reportedly a humble locker-room leader, so maybe he's just deferring to the team's established leaders. I attended the game last night, and it was a little disconcerting to learn after the fact that Forsberg turned down Coach Trotz's first request to participate in the shootout. Putting him on the ice in the sudden-death round with the game on the line added even more pressure, and even NHL superstars are human and can't make a spectacular play every time.

The trade is already paying dividends in the stands and around the city, and the team can afford the steep price it paid because it didn't require a big departure from the current roster. There are rumblings around the league that Forsberg may already have it in mind to return to Philadelphia in the offseason, but some of those rumors are from Flyers fans who are disappointed about an unexpectedly awful season for their favorite team.

Forsberg has made no promises to the Preds, but he did waive a no-trade clause in his contract to allow the deal to happen. He was serving as Philadelphia's captain, though, and perhaps he sees this move as a way to help the Flyers' future because he has been limited so far this season for them on the ice.

I hope he will at least give Nashville the honor of keeping an open mind about our team and our community. This could very well be a great place for him to earn another championship, whether this year or thereafter, and it could be a great and welcoming place for him to complete his career, too.

Playing in two quick home games after arriving as the savior via a blockbuster trade will put pressure on anyone, even a premier athlete. The long road trip that starts next week will be a big challenge for the team, but I have a feeling it will be a very good thing for Forsberg's Predators tenure.

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