Peter Forsberg

Peter Forsberg practices in Denver – Will he play after All-Star break?

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It might seem like the story that never goes away, but it’s got legs now and the fans in Denver are officially more excited than they’ve been since 2001. Peter Forsberg practiced yet again today with the Colorado Avalanche in his efforts to figure out if he’s in shape and ready to make yet another comeback in the NHL.

The former Avalanche superstar made his first appearance on the ice yesterday and was out there again today and if you believe everything you’re reading out of Denver, his return to the Avalanche not only might happen but might happen sooner than you think.

Denver Post beat writer Adrian Dater, whose coverage of Forsberg’s return is virtually Entertainment Tonight-esque, tweeted his thoughts about what he thinks Forsberg’s future holds and he believes that Forsberg could be signed and suited up and on the ice for the Avs for their game on February 3rd at home against Minnesota.

For those of us that are skeptical about Forsberg’s wont to comeback at 37 years-old and a long history of foot injuries, including one that prevented him from playing for his Swedish team MoDo, having his comeback game come at home makes sense but also reeks of pandering to wayward Avalanche fans who for some reason haven’t adopted the new, young, and fun to watch crop of current players.

Far be it from us to tell Peter Forsberg what to do, but like we’ve seen in other sports where once great athletes try to hang on a little too long, the entire escape becomes sad to watch. If, and these are gigantic if’s, he can come back and play and stay healthy for the rest of the season and playoffs then it’s a perfectly sound pickup for the Avalanche and gives them a boost in the stands. Of course, Forsberg hasn’t been healthy in years. Not in the NHL, not in the Swedish league so counting on that happen seems like a fools folly.

While the Avs have an opening in the lineup with Tomas Fleischmann out for the season, are the Avs so thin in their system that bringing Forsberg back on a public relations-beneficial whim the way to go? That’s up for debate. Still, if the fans in Denver or anywhere else think they’re going to see the power forward that tormented the NHL for years in the 90s and early 2000s, they’re fooling themselves and the Avalanche might be setting themselves up for a major letdown.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”