His 19-year professional career includes 13 years in the National Hockey League (NHL), where he won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche, as well as several individual honors including the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2003. As of the end of the 2013–14 season, he is the fourth-highest all-time Swedish point scorer in the NHL regular season. Before his short-lived comeback season in 2011, Forsberg never had a negative plus-minus rating, giving him an overall career rating of +238.
Representing Sweden in international play, Forsberg competed in four Winter Olympics, two World Cups and five World Championships, as well as one European Junior Championship and two World Junior Championships, where he holds a scoring record of 31 points in seven games that some say may never be broken. He won four gold medals with Sweden in his career, winning titles at the 1992 and 1998 World Championships and the 1994 and 2006 Winter Olympics. Combined with his two Stanley Cup championships in NHL play, he is a member of the Triple Gold Club and the only Swede who has won each of the three competitions twice. In 2013, he was inducted to the IIHF Hall of Fame, and in 2014, he was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Peter Forsberg was born in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, the son of Kent Forsberg, a former coach of Modo Hockey and the Swedish national team. Forsberg was coached by his father for a significant part of his career: the two teamed up from 1991–94 with Modo and later for the national team in the 1996 World Cup, 1998 Olympics and 1998 World Championship, which Sweden won.
Forsberg played minor hockey alongside boyhood friend Markus Näslund, who was also born in Örnsköldsvik. Born ten days apart, the two were well-acquainted while playing on separate youth teams before joining together on the regional Ångermanland all-star team for the under-16 TV-pucken national championship in 1988. They went on to compete alongside each other at the junior and men's level for both Modo Hockey and the Swedish national team. Forsberg and Näslund also attended high school together and had summer jobs at the age of 18 with the same electrical company that employed both Näslund's mother and Forsberg's father.
Growing up, Forsberg's idol was Elitserien and NHL star Håkan Loob.
Forsberg debuted in 1990 with the junior squad of Modo Hockey, the club of his hometown Örnsköldsvik. During the course of the season, he debuted with the senior team that played in the Elitserien, the highest-level professional ice hockey league in Sweden, and scored an assist in his only game. In 1990–91, he scored 102 points in 39 games with the junior team and 17 points in 23 games with the senior team.
At the end of the season, Forsberg was drafted sixth overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, the first European player taken that year. The draft pick was surprising because Forsberg was expected to be selected later in the draft. The Hockey News had ranked Forsberg as the 25th best draft prospect in its 1991 draft preview, saying he was "a solid second rounder who could move into the first." The pick was criticized by the Philadelphia media, prompting Flyers' General Manager Russ Farwell and the team's chief European scout to reply that time would prove them right.
Eric Lindros was the main attraction of the draft. He was drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques but refused to sign a contract and, on advice from his mother, began a holdout that lasted over a year. Forsberg was included in a deal that sent five players, two first-round draft picks, and US$15 million to the Quebec Nordiques in exchange for Lindros. In hindsight, the Lindros trade is seen as one of the most one-sided deals in sports history, and the deal became a major foundation for the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise's success over the next decade.
Forsberg remained in Sweden, playing for Modo for the following three years. In 1993, the team was eliminated in the playoffs quarterfinals against Malmö, and Forsberg won the Guldpucken for Player of the Year and the Guldhjälmen for Most Valuable Player of the Elitserien, an award decided by the players. He won both prizes again in 1994, when, after barely making the playoffs, he led his team to their first final since winning the Elitserien playoffs in 1979. In a five-game series again against Malmö, Forsberg scored in overtime in game two to put his team one win away from the title. However, he suffered from the flu,(influenza v) and Modo lost the remaining games of the series and the title. By this point, Forsberg was thought to be the best player in the world outside the NHL.
During the summer of 1994, Forsberg decided to play in the NHL after he signed a contract with the Quebec Nordiques in October 1993. The contract was a four-year deal worth $6.5 million, including $4.275 million given as a signing bonus. However, a lockout delayed his NHL debut until 1995, and Forsberg returned to Modo to play 11 more games before going back to North America.
After the lockout ended, the 1994–95 NHL season began on 21 January 1995. That was the day Forsberg made his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers, where he recorded his first NHL assist. His first NHL goal came six days later against the Buffalo Sabres. His rookie season in the NHL was impressive—Forsberg was able to combine a good offensive performance with responsibility in defence as well as physical play. He scored 50 points (15 goals and 35 assists) in 47 games, including a 14-game run in which he scored 26 points and was second in scoring for the Nordiques, behind Joe Sakic. He missed only one game, due to the flu. The Nordiques won the Northeast Division and had the second best record of the regular season but lost in the first playoff round against the New York Rangers. At the end of the season, Forsberg won the Calder Memorial Trophy for best rookie in the season and was selected to the NHL All-Rookie Team.
On 1 July 1995, it became official that the Nordiques' owner Marcel Aubut had sold the team to the COMSAT Entertainment Group, which moved the franchise to Denver, Colorado. The franchise was presented as the Colorado Avalanche on 10 August 1995.
Forsberg was on a team that included center and captain Joe Sakic, defenceman Adam Foote and, in the near future, Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Patrick Roy. In its first year in Denver, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup after finishing the regular season with the second best league record and winning the Pacific Division. Forsberg scored 116 points in the regular season (30 goals, 86 assists) and 21 more in the playoffs (10 goals, 11 assists). Forsberg finished second in points standings in team and fifth overall in the League in the regular and post-season. During game two of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers, Forsberg scored three goals in a period and became the sixth player in NHL history to do so. Not only was the 1995–96 NHL season Forsberg's highest scoring season, but it would also be the only NHL season in which he played in all his team's games.
In the 1996–97 season, Forsberg played in only 65 regular season games and 14 of Colorado's 17 playoff games due to a bruised thigh. But he recorded 86 points (28 goals, 58 assists) as Colorado earned its first Presidents' Trophy and the third consecutive division title for the franchise. On 16 March 1997, Forsberg participated in his only fight in his NHL career against Detroit Red Wings winger Martin Lapointe. The fight occurred ten days before the famous Red Wings–Avalanche brawl. In the playoffs, Colorado lost in the Conference Finals against Detroit; Forsberg scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists).
The same year Forsberg was chosen to be on the cover of NHL 98, a video game made by EA Sports.
In 2001, the Avalanche won their second Stanley Cup. After the Avalanche defeated the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the playoffs, Forsberg had to have his spleen removed and could not play again in the playoffs. Based on doctors' advice and his overall deteriorated health, he decided to take the following season off to recuperate. He returned for the playoffs, though, and he again led the playoffs in scoring with 27 points, but his team lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference finals.
2002–03 was a banner year for Forsberg. He centered the highly productive "AMP line" (i.e. Alex, Milan, Peter) with wingers Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk as part of the Colorado Avalanche's "one-two punch" offensive plan led by centers Forsberg and Joe Sakic. Much healthier and more rested than he had been in the previous few years, he went on to lead the league with 106 points, for which he was awarded the Art Ross Trophy, as well as the Hart Memorial Trophy for league MVP. The Avalanche lost to the Minnesota Wild in the playoffs.
Peter Forsberg returned to Modo Hockey during the 2004–05 NHL lockout. He had signed a one-year contract even before the confirmation of the cancellation of the 2004–05 NHL season. Coached by his father and together with NHL players Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Markus Näslund, Forsberg played only 33 of Modo's 50 regular season games because of surgery he had after dislocating his left wrist and breaking a bone in the hand. He scored 39 points (13 goals and 26 assists) and finished eleventh in the scoring leaders race, tied with the eighth. Modo finished sixth in the regular season and lost in the first round of the playoffs against Färjestad BK in a six-game series in which Forsberg only played one game.
After the end of the season and with the return of the NHL, Forsberg returned to North America. The implementation of a salary cap was a blow to the Colorado Avalanche, one of the highest spenders of the League, who were forced to let go of Forsberg and Adam Foote to save room in the cap for Joe Sakic and Rob Blake. He refused a four-year, $13.5 million offer from the Avalanche before signing a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Before the season start, he had surgery to remove a bursa sac from his right ankle. He debuted with the Flyers on 5 October in a game against the New York Rangers. He scored two assists in his first game and 12 in his first six. Despite only playing 60 games, mostly because of a groin injury, he scored 75 points (19 goals and 56 assists) and the Flyers lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Buffalo Sabres.
After the end of the season, he had surgery on his right ankle and foot to correct deformities because of an abnormal arch that caused him to stretch his ankle tendons. He was expected to have the same surgery done on his left foot and to be sidelined until January, but a doctor considered he did not need it and he was ready to play by the start of the 2006–07 NHL season. On 14 September 2006, Forsberg became the Flyers' 15th captain in team history, after Keith Primeau retired. The season was troubled for him: as the Flyers were having their worst season ever, Forsberg had not fully recovered from his right foot problems and had doubts about his future. With his contract ending at the end of the season and with no commitment on Forsberg's part to signing a new contract or to retire, on 15 February 12 days before the trade deadline, the Flyers traded him to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Ryan Parent, Scottie Upshall and Nashville's first- and third-round 2007 picks to boost Nashville's playoff run. At the Predators' last regular season game, Forsberg returned to Denver for the first time since leaving the Colorado Avalanche. He assisted on another former Avalanche player Paul Kariya's game-winning goal that eliminated any chances the Avalanche had of progressing to the playoffs, the first time ever the franchise had failed to do so since moving to Colorado. The Predators lost in the first round of the playoffs against the San Jose Sharks, with Forsberg scoring four points in the five game series. Forsberg had an average of less than one point per game in the regular season for the first time in his career and for the second time in the playoffs.
For most of the 2007–08 season, Forsberg was an unrestricted free agent and said that he would not return to the NHL. He had surgery on his foot and was waiting to see if he was in condition to play. He said that in Europe, he would only play for Modo Hockey, and in the NHL he would probably play for one of his former three clubs. On 25 February 2008, Forsberg signed a contract with the Colorado Avalanche for the rest of the 2007–08 season.
Forsberg's first game back with the Avalanche was on 4 March 2008, home at the Pepsi Center against the Vancouver Canucks. However, he was sidelined after just three games on 9 March 2008, due to a groin injury sustained in the game on 8 March. He was listed by the club as day-to-day. On 1 April, against Vancouver, he scored his first goal of the season in Colorado's penultimate regular season game.
Coming back from a ten-month break Forsberg was first among all NHL players in terms of average-points-per-game (PPG) during the 2007–08 regular season. With an average of 1.56 PPG in nine games, he placed himself on top over the scoring League winner Alexander Ovechkin with the second highest average of 1.37 PPG, although Ovechkin played all 82 games.
He played two seasons with Modo from 2008–09 and 2009–10, the latter season being joined by fellow country man Markus Näslund.
On 14 August 2010, Forsberg announced he was not optimistic about returning to hockey, hinting he may retire.
On 21 January 2011, it was announced that Forsberg had begun training with the Colorado Avalanche in attempt to make a comeback in the NHL.
On 6 February, the Avalanche announced that they had come to terms on a contract with Forsberg worth $1 million for the remainder of the 2010–11 season. Forsberg played his first game back with the Avalanche in Nationwide Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets on 11 February. He was in the starting lineup at left wing, a departure from his natural center, with 2001 Stanley Cup-winning teammate Milan Hejduk, as well as Matt Duchene. In the two road games he played in, Forsberg was on the ice for 17 minutes and 38 seconds, with zero points and a –4 plus-minus rating. The Avalanche lost both games. After the latter game, Avalanche Head Coach Joe Sacco stated Forsberg was the best player on the ice.
The Avalanche, in the midst of a losing season, heavily advertised tickets for Forsberg's first home game back as a member of the team. However, on 14 February 2011, hours before he was scheduled to play in front of the Avalanche's home fans at the Pepsi Center, Forsberg announced his retirement from hockey. The Avalanche's official website stated that Forsberg would hold a press conference later that day, formally announcing his retirement. In the press conference, Forsberg cited an "inability to defend (himself)" on the ice, with foot problems also playing a role in his decision.
On 8 October 2011, Forsberg had his jersey number retired prior to the Avalanche's 2011–12 season opener at the Pepsi Center.
On 20 April 2011, nearly two weeks after a dramatic but successful end of the 2011 Kvalserien for Modo Hockey, Forsberg was named an assistant general manager of the Modo organization, working under long-time friend Markus Näslund.
On 26 February 2015, Forsberg had his number officially retired prior to a Modo game at the Fjällräven Center in his native Örnsköldsvik.
In 2016, Forsberg played a game of street hockey with Ricky, a character from the Canadian television show Trailer Park Boys, on their Netflix special Trailer Park Boys Out of the Park: Europe.
Forsberg is involved with many business endeavors. He was an early investor in Crocs, and is a partial owner in the airline Nextjet.
Forsberg competed with Sweden's under-18 team at the 1991 European Junior Championships. He led the tournament in scoring with 17 points over six games as Sweden failed to defend their gold medal from the previous year. Moving on to Sweden's national under-20 team, he played in his first of two World Junior Championships in 1992. He scored 11 points in seven games as Sweden won the silver medal. Several months later, Forsberg debuted with the Swedish men's team at the 1992 World Championships. He recorded a goal and an assist over eight games, helping Sweden to a gold medal.
The following year, he made his second appearance at the 1993 World Junior Championships. Forsberg set a tournament record 24 assists and 31 points over seven games. He earned nearly a third of his points with a ten-point performance against Japan, which set a single-game tournament record. In 1994, he led the Swedes to a gold medal in the Winter Olympics, scoring the winning goal of the penalty shootout that decided the gold medal game. Forsberg's "one hand, slide in" goal, a move which he borrowed from retired Swedish ice hockey player Kent Nilsson, has become popular in today's NHL. An image of Forsberg scoring this goal was later placed on a Swedish postage stamp, making him the first hockey player to be placed on a Swedish stamp. Forsberg's famous move on Canadian goaltender Corey Hirsch (who refused to allow his name to be shown on the stamp) has become so iconic in hockey that efforts to reproduce it inevitably draw references to Forsberg from hockey commentators.
Following his second year in the NHL, Forsberg competed in the 1996 World Cup. The competition marked Forsberg's first time in best-on-best international play. With five points in four games, Forsberg helped Sweden to a bronze medal.
In October 1997, it was announced that Forsberg would be playing for the Swedish national team in the Karjala Cup, though he was forced to withdraw from the team after just one practice session after experiencing continued problems with his foot. The following year, he competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, in the first Olympic competition including NHL players. Forsberg recorded five points over four games as Sweden finished without a medal at fifth place. Several months later, competing in the 1998 World Championships, Sweden won a gold medal. Forsberg had recorded 11 points over seven games.
In November 1999, Forsberg played for Sweden in the Karjala Cup, a tournament that included his 100th game for the Swedish national team against Russia on 7 November. Nearly five years later, he made his fourth World Championships appearance in 2003. He scored nine points in eight games to help Sweden to a silver medal. The following year, he helped Sweden to another silver medal at the 2004 tournament, recording an assist in two games.
Returning to best-on-best competition at the 2004 World Cup, Forsberg recorded three points in four games. Sweden finished in fifth place. Two years later, he won his second Olympic gold, helping Sweden to a championship at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy. As part of a subsequent interview about the championship over five years later, Forsberg was interpreted to insinuate that Sweden lost their preliminary round game against Slovakia on purpose, so as to draw Switzerland as their quarterfinal opponent, rather than Canada or Russia. Swedish forward Henrik Sedin, who played alongside Forsberg on the 2006 team denied the notion while adding that Forsberg's comments in the interview were misconstrued. Forsberg's next appearance in international competition came at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. He was named Sweden's flag bearer for the opening ceremonies. Two years removed from NHL competition (Forsberg had been playing in the Elitserien while attempting an NHL comeback), Forsberg played a lesser role with the Swedish team and recorded an assist over four games. Sweden finished in fifth place, failing to defend their 2006 gold medal.
Forsberg and his father own a Swedish development company named Forspro Company. The company co-funded the Modo Hockey team's new Swedbank Arena in Örnsköldsvik. Independently of his father, Forsberg also owned Pforce AB, a company that imported and marketed Crocs shoes in his native Sweden since 2005. On 14 July 2010, he announced he was closing Pforce after taking heavy losses in the previous two years. Forsberg is also interested in harness racing, and owns or has owned a few racing horses during the years, including Tsar d' Inverne and Adrian Chip. He has also invested money in a golf course named Veckefjärdens Golf Club in his native Örnsköldsvik.
Philanthropically, Forsberg and childhood friend Markus Näslund founded Icebreakers, an organization that brings together professional ice hockey players for exhibition games to raise money for charities.
In late 2010, Forsberg became engaged to fellow Swede Nicole Nordin in Paris. In June 2012, the couple welcomed their first child, a son named Lennox. In September 2014, their second child, Lily, was born.
Peter Forsberg was a superstar forward, with "outstanding" playmaking skills and "great vision" who "possesses an excellent combination of skill and physical play". In the prime of his career, he was considered by many as the best two-way player in the world. He is capable of combining physical play and hits with skill and is responsible offensively and defensively. Said to have a "Wayne Gretzky-like" passing touch, he has been complimented by journalists and players for making the players around him better.
Forsberg's style of play led him to deal with several severe injuries. It has been said in the press that he was injury prone because he did not soften his game as he got older. In his 14 seasons as an NHL player, Forsberg missed an entire regular season and played in less than 90% of regular season games in eight other seasons.
The first season in which he missed a significant part was 1996–97. Due to a bruised thigh, Forsberg was out on 14 regular season games and three playoff games. In the off season before the 1999–2000 season, Forsberg underwent shoulder surgery and missed the first 23 games of the season. He missed an extra 10 games due to shoulder injuries, a concussion and a hip pointer. After missing eight games due to a rib injury in the 2000–01 regular season, Forsberg suffered a severe injury in the playoffs. After the last game of the conference semifinal against the Los Angeles Kings on 9 May 2001, he underwent surgery to remove a ruptured spleen and it was announced that he would not play until the following season. In the beginning of the 2001–02 season, he took a leave of absence to heal his injuries. In January 2002, the Colorado Avalanche held a press conference but instead of announcing the expected return of Forsberg, announced that he had been submitted to reconstructive surgery on the peroneal tendons of his left foot (Forsberg would return for the playoffs that season, but foot problems would plague Forsberg for the rest of his career and eventually end it). In 2003–04 season, he missed 43 games: 19 with a groin and abdominal injury
During the lockout, while playing for Modo Hockey, Forsberg had surgery after dislocating his left wrist and breaking a bone in his hand, and because of a bursa sac removal.Forsberg set an all time tournament record at the 1993 World Junior Championships with 31 points in only seven games. Also, he ranks first in career points among tournament scorers with 42 points (10 goals and 32 assists).
With his second Olympic Gold in 2006, he became the third player in history to have enough titles to be a member of the Triple Gold Club twice (the others being Viacheslav Fetisov and Igor Larionov).
As of 2016-10-01, Forsberg stands eighth in NHL all-time points-per-game, with 1.25 points-per-game in his career.
He is ranked fourth all-time in NHL career assists-per-game with 0.898, behind only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr .
Awards information taken from NHL.com.