VANCOUVER (Reuters) - There are 22 men who are members of ice hockey’s Triple Gold Club -- players whose trophy cases contain Olympic and world championship gold medals and a Stanley Cup title.
But Peter Forsberg, who was forced to bring his brilliant NHL career to a premature end three seasons ago because of chronic foot problems, will stand alone as the only player with three gold medals if Sweden can successfully defend its Olympic crown in Vancouver.
It was the lure of more Olympic gold that prompted Forsberg to attempt a comeback and earn a place on the Swedish national team he has led for almost two decades.
“It’s definitely great to be back playing against the best players in the world,” a smiling Forsberg told reporters after Sweden opened the defense of its title on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Germany. “I feel ok, it’s a work in progress.
“I played in the Swedish league, maybe 20 games this year and I’m scoring better-and-better every game.
“But at this stage of my career I don’t think I’m ever going to be really healthy again so I’m just going to do my best and see how it goes.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here but I’m still battling. Anytime you get the chance to play in an Olympics it’s the best thing you can do.”
A Hart trophy winner as the NHL’s most valuable player in 2003, Forsberg had not been seen in action in an NHL arena since 2007 but remains a hockey hero to millions of Swedes and carried his country’s flag in the Vancouver Games opening ceremony.
After Forsberg scored the decisive goal in a shootout against Canada in the gold medal final of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics the moment was immortalized on a postage stamp.
He was back leading Sweden to gold in 2006 at Turin but by then chronic foot problems had already begun to take their toll on the big forward who continues to be pursued by several NHL teams about a comeback.
“Of course I would love to play in the NHL,” said Forsberg, who has 249 career goals in the NHL. “I have been battling this injury for a long time.
“I get the chance here because there are not too many games, six, seven games you have a chance to win the gold.”
Editing by Miles Evans
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