Forsberg needs ankle surgery


PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Philadelphia Flyers center Peter Forsberg needs surgery to repair ligament problems in both of his ankles, injuries that will force him to miss the start of the season and could sideline him until January.

“I wish I could go back and prove it right now that when I come back I will be a better player,” Forsberg said Wednesday. “And I feel as bad as anybody that I have to get this done.”

Forsberg said he would have surgery on his right ankle early next week and the left ankle will be repaired when the right one has healed.

Forsberg said doctors told him each ankle should take four to six weeks to heal.

Forsberg already had surgery recommended by a specialist in North Carolina, and saw another specialist for a second opinion in Houston on Tuesday, who also said Forsberg needed surgery.

“It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be a lot of rehab,” Forsberg said. “When I come back, it’s going to be so much better.”

A precision passer and prolific scorer, Forsberg is best known for his offensive skill. He had 19 goals and 75 points in his first season with the Flyers after leaving Colorado to sign a two-year, $11.5 million contract last summer.

Forsberg, an MVP with the Avalanche in 2003, said after the Flyers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs that he would probably need surgery on his right ankle that could prevent him from starting next season on time.

It turned out to be much worse.

Forsberg has loose ligaments in his ankles that were more uncomfortable than painful. The condition affected his balance, put added stress on his legs and made it difficult to keep his right foot in his skate.

“The boot doesn’t fit my foot, my foot doesn’t stick in the skate and then I can’t skate,” Forsberg said. “If I get it done, straighten up the foot and repair the ligaments I think it’s going to be fine.”

Often considered one of the world’s premier hockey players, Forsberg also had a groin injury that sidelined him for 22 games. His impact was obvious. Philadelphia was 35-16-9 with him in the lineup and 10-10-2 without him.

Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said surgery during this season was never an option, and hopes the Flyers can play well next season until Forsberg returns to the lineup.

“If he is going to have a successful rest of his career, he has to get this done,” Clarke said. “He can’t go this way or he is going to have this constant groin problem and back problems that this causes.”

Forsberg, who led Sweden to an Olympic gold medal in Turin, promised when he returned next season that Flyers fans would really see just how great he could be.

“I am looking forward to coming back and start playing again and playing at the level I think I can play at because I don’t think I was playing at my best last year,” he said. “I think I had been getting worse and I am just so excited to come back.”

AP-ES-05-10-06 1943EDT