Tag: comeback attempt

Canucks Oilers Hockey

Owen Nolan faces long odds as he tries to find a spot on the Canucks

It’s tough enough for a 39-year-old veteran to make it in the NHL—let alone one coming off of a season in Switzerland that is forced to make an NHL team on a tryout. That’s exactly the challenge Owen Nolan is facing during training camp this season. After playing in 1200 NHL regular season games and netting 422 career goals, Nolan is being asked to prove his worth before the Canucks are willing to make any commitment.

Alain Vigneault has been happy with Nolan’s play throughout training camp and pleased once again during the Canucks 4-3 loss to the Sharks on Sunday night. The first overall pick in the 1990 draft could hypothetically bring an element to the defending Western Conference champs that they could use—a gritty, talented body to put in front of the net.

Of course, there’s a reason that he’s been out of the league for a season. In a league where players can’t lose a step—he’s lost two. Throughout his two decade long NHL career, he’s never been able to play a full 82 game season. It’s hard to believe that a body that has been through so many wars would magically find health as he approaches his 40th birthday. Playing Nolan’s style of game for twenty years is much different than a guy like Mark Recchi playing twenty years of his particular style. Endurance and durability are questions that Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault have thought about:

“Can the body hold up the pace and can his body sustain it on a consistent basis? You have to be able to practise and play to maintain a high tempo. He’s playing today. Is he going to be able to practise tomorrow? That’s part of the body being able to hold up at that age. He’s been able to follow the pace and has brought the skill he might still have — those hands are still there — and he goes to the net hard.

“That power forward type of player, if we could add it to our group, we would.”

The former Sharks captain understands the questions surround his worth, but he’s not ready to hand ‘em up quite yet. Most successful veterans acknowledge that the passion to play the game is almost as important as skill they near retirement. Nolan explains that the fire burns just as bright as ever:

“I know I’m not 20, but the willingness to compete and still do that is there and playing physical has been part of my career and I’m not going to stop. Sometimes you lose a step, but the longer you play the smarter you get. You learn to read certain situations and how to react to them so you don’t get caught out of position.”

Nolan has played for six NHL organizations throughout his lengthy NHL career. If he wants to add the Vancouver Canucks to the list that already includes the Nordiques/Avalanche, Sharks, Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Flames, and Wild, he’ll need the Vancouver organization to value his experience and leadership as much as his play on the ice. There are younger players signed who are itching for an opportunity to play energy roles on the Canucks this season. Players like Cody Hodgson, Mark Mancari, Marco Sturm, and Victor Oreskovich who are all battling to solidify their roles on the team.

Would the Canucks be willing to look past players who are younger, faster, or more physically imposing for a man in the twilight of his career? Thus far in training camp, he certainly hasn’t embarrassed himself throughout his try-out. But has he done enough to make the team?

Update: Minutes after we posted this article, reports surfaced that the Canucks have released Owen Nolan from his professional tryout. Impeccable timing as usual…

Manny Legace’s comeback hopes take a blow, released by Canucks

Manny Legace

As soon as Manny Legace accepted a professional tryout with the Canucks, the clock was ticking before his inevitable release. It’s nothing against Legace—he just went to a team that has one of the most solidified goaltending situations in the entire NHL. Roberto Luongo is under contract until the next time Haley’s Comet appears, back-up Cory Schneider could start for half the teams in the league, and Swedish prospect Eddie Lack already has the starting job in the AHL on lockdown. Was the team really going to waste a developmental spot on the Chicago Wolves roster for an aging goaltender trying to make a comeback? Probably not.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was an optimist when he spoke to the media about releasing Legace on Friday:

“There seemed to be some interest out there. Other teams are looking for some goaltenders.

“We gave him the opportunity to stay with us and practice or (for) him and his agent to look at something else. He decided look to see if there was something else out there.”

The good news is that Legace has proven in the past that he’s an adequate NHL netminder. While playing most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues (with shorts stints in LA and Carolina), Legace has put up decent statistics. He has 197 wins and only 99 regulation losses, a .912 career save percentage, and a 2.41 goals against average. Looking at the body of work, there could be an NHL team interested in kicking the tires before the season starts.

The bad news is he’s a 38-year-old goaltender coming off an average season in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. His 17-22-3 record last season with the Iserlohn Roosters isn’t going to get anyone’s attention and the 2.51 goals against average is pedestrian at best. But an average record and statistics while playing in Germany aren’t resume items that NHL teams want to see.

Take a look around the league.  Legace’s best shot is to catch on with a team that has a solid #1 goaltender and wants a veteran presence as a back-up. Not only will a team need to have a back-up role available, they’ll need to be willing to give the job to the aging Legace and not a prospect that needs seasoning. As if that wasn’t enough, Legace isn’t the only goaltender on the market as teams are trimming their training camp rosters. Pascal Leclaire and Marty Turco are both still available for teams—and are both just as viable as Manny Legace. There’s also the netminders who are competing for jobs who may get cut or waived within the coming weeks (like Ray Emery or Alexander Salak in Chicago).

Unfortunately for Legace, this could be the end of the road for an NHL career that began when he was drafted by the Hartford Whalers way back in 1993. Anything could happen between now and the beginning of the season, but it doesn’t look good for the veteran.

A bump in the road for the Peter Forsberg comeback

Peter Forsberg

Peter Forsberg’s attempted comeback with the Colorado Avalanche has been going well. He’s been working vigorously in order to try and earn a new contract with his original NHL team where he carved out his legacy as one of the fiercest power forwards in the NHL. Until today, there was every reason to believe that Forsberg would eventually get a contract offer from the Avs and make what would perhaps be his last stand in the NHL.

Today, however, things may have taken a downward turn in his efforts. Adrian Dater of The Denver Post reports that while Forsberg may not be injured, it’s clear that his perpetually injured right foot that’s plagued his career is causing him problems yet again.

Peter Forsberg resumed practicing with the Avalanche today, and while the hockey star made it through and said he will continue, there seemed to be some discouraging signs about his latest comeback attempt.

Forsberg, 37, spent moments of the rugged practice on the bench attending to his skates, and engaged in at least two conversations with Avalanche trainers. Afterward, Forsberg said he will continue practicing, but anticipates making a decision soon on whether to stay and possibly sign a contract or not.

With a decision coming in the near future, whether or not we’ll get to see Forsberg back in an NHL game or not will be known, but by judging from Dater’s quotes from Forsberg today and his own take on what he saw in practice today, you have to think that this story is going to come to a quiet end and turn out the way we’ve been expecting it to: With Forsberg being unable to play again in the NHL.

It’s sad to see a once great superstar like this continually deny their own health and the reality of the situation at hand, but sometimes a player just needs to do it for themselves to prove whether or not it can be done. While Dater expresses that anything is possible with Forsberg, the truth is it doesn’t look good at all and this last hurrah for Forsberg very well might be it for good.

Once more with feeling: Peter Forsberg to practice with Avalanche – Last chance at a comeback?


Thus proving that it’s never truly a dull moment in the day until there’s some wacky news about a Peter Forsberg comeback, Colorado announced today that Forsberg will, indeed, be practicing with the Avalanche starting tomorrow. Is he just working out for the heck of it because he’s in Denver? Does skating in the altitude make him feel better? Did he miss the Rocky Mountain Oysters?

No, it’s much more serious than that.

“I need to see where I am physically and practicing with NHL players is the best way to find that out,” said Forsberg.

A player doesn’t get to practice with a NHL team because he feels like it. Granted, Forsberg essentially has carte blanche in Denver to do as he wants to. But another attempt at a comeback? Oh boy.

We’ve roasted previous stories about Forsberg even discussing making a comeback in the NHL and gotten a good chuckle out of it just the same and this is no different. After all, he stopped playing for his Swedish taem MODO because he was still having issues with his forever injured foot. The fact that the Avalanche have swung the doors open for Forsberg to practice with the team either speaks to their need to replace Tomas Fleischmann, who’s out for the season after discovering he has pulmonary emboli, or to the fact the Avalanche are having a terrible time drawing fans to Pepsi Center.

The Avs are drawing an average of 14,470 fans per game, good for 82% capacity, 23rd best percentage in the NHL (source). Despite the team being youthful, fast, and exciting to watch they haven’t been able to win fans back after the Avalanche struggled to go deep in the playoffs for a few seasons. Gone are the days of Forsberg, Joe Sakic, and Patrick Roy and gone with them have been the sellout crowds that were synonymous with Avalanche hockey. If bringing Forsberg back even just to practice with the team will get the casual fans to take notice again then, hey, that’s a great move and doesn’t really do anything to affect team chemistry.

If the Avs really think that Forsberg can be a contributor to the team they’re out of their minds. We’ve seen this act from Forsberg before in ill-fated seasons with the Flyers and Predators where anything positive he tried to bring to those teams was eventually submarined by injury problems.

A player has the right to play as long as he wants to, but in this case, it seems like most fans want to remember Forsberg for being the dominating power forward of the late 90s/early 2000s and not for being the NHL’s answer to Brett Favre.