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After second surgery, Forsberg set to return to Avs
ESPN The Magazine
Colorado Avalanche center Peter Forsberg, who has been on leave from the NHL since Sept. 15, had additional ankle surgery in September that was not under the supervision of team doctors, ESPN The Magazine has learned.

"The surgery was successful," Forsberg's father, Kent, said of the second procedure that was performed in Stockholm, Sweden. "He couldn't skate, and now he can. It took a long time (to return to the ice) after the second surgery."

As a result, Kent said, a press conference will be held in the near future to announce Forsberg's return to the Avalanche and his availability to then play for Team Sweden in the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Avalanche spokesman Jean Martineau said the team is not aware of Forsberg's plans to return and that the second surgery was done of his own volition.

"He had (both) his ankles done in July in Denver. Then he was cleared and ready to come back on September 10," Martineau said. "He did practice four or five days with us. It was going very well. Then he decided on the 15th that he was taking a leave of absence.

"He had a very minor thing done to his ankles in Stockholm after he decided to take his leave of absence. He did that on his own. It was very minor and it had nothing to do with his decision to take a leave of absence."

While it is not known if Forsberg had planned the additional surgery when he announced his leave during Avalanche training camp in Sweden, a source close to the Forsberg family told ESPN The Magazine that the second operation was necessary.

"The operation in Denver wasn't successful," the source said.

Forsberg skated Monday in his home town of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, according to another source. He has not yet skated in hockey gear, but he is using a form-fitting new pair of skates made from a mold taken of his feet.

Forsberg will reveal a more detailed comeback timetable soon. "You will hear everything in the next couple of days," said the source.

The Magazine caught up with Forsberg in Örnsköldsvik for a feature that will appear in the Jan. 21 issue.

The 28-year-old center, a six-time All-Star, announced during Avalanche training camp in Sweden that he was taking a sabbatical to recover from recent injuries -- including offseason surgery on both ankles and an emergency splenectomy during the playoffs -- which had taken an emotional and physical toll. He said he would not be collecting his $11 million salary.

Forsberg played only 42 games during 1999-2000 after having missed the start of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery. He was also sidelined for games because of hip pointer, a concussion and a separated shoulder.

Last year, Forsberg missed the start of training camp after spraining one of his ankles while playing soccer during the offseason. He was out of the lineup for nine games during the season with a rib muscle injury and was continuously bothered by ankle pain.

Forsberg underwent an emergency splenectomy on May 10, hours after the Avalanche eliminated the Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, and was sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.

After Colorado beat New Jersey in a seven-game Stanley Cup final, Forsberg returned to Sweden for the offseason. He flew to Denver in July to undergo surgery on both ankles. Those procedures did not become public until Forsberg's Sept. 15 announcement.

Eric Adelson is an associate editor at ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at eric.adelson@espnmag.com.



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