STOCKHOLM — Peter Forsberg doesn’t know if he’ll play hockey at all this season, but defending Olympic champion Sweden coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson still named the former NHL MVP to his preliminary Olympic roster on Friday.
“We’ll see if it will work for him,” said Gustafsson, who guided Sweden to Olympic gold at the 2006 Turin Olympics.
The 36-year-old Forsberg has practised with his Swedish Elite League team Modo since early August and is playing a pre-season tournament in Switzerland this weekend.
“But remember that these are only a few exhibitions, it’s not a big deal,” Forsberg said after the team’s arrival in Switzerland. “My chances to play this winter are still very small.”
The veteran centre, who won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche and was the NHL’s MVP in 2003, played his first high level game in 10 months in February for Modo in his Swedish hometown. He was sidelined for most of the season because of an ailing right foot after surgery.
Forsberg is widely considered to be among the greatest two-way players of all time, known for his prolific offensive skills as well as his tenacious defensive play.
He is one of the few players to win a Stanley Cup, Olympic gold medal and world championship. He captured his first Olympic gold medal at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics in Norway, scoring the clinching goal in a penalty shootout against Canada.
The Swedish roster consists of 69 players — 49 NHLers and 20 European-based players. The squad will be cut to 23 players before Christmas.
Veteran Mats Sundin, another key Sweden player at the 2006 Olympics, didn’t make the squad. The former Toronto Maple Leafs captain played with the Vancouver Canucks last season, but has not made up his mind about returning to the Olympic host city this season.
“I talked to him and he has played his last game for Sweden,” Sweden coach Gustafsson said.
Sweden’s powerful roster also includes Nicklas Lidstrom, winner of six Norris trophies as the NHL’s top defensive player with the Detroit Red Wings.