Peter Forsberg is not here. His sticks are here, his skates are here, his jersey is here. So are his teammates: Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne and the rest of the loaded Colorado Avalanche have just finished a training camp practice at a rink in suburban Denver. The fans are here too, hundreds of them, watching practice on a Monday. Nearly every jersey has the number 21 on the back: home Avalanche white, road Avalanche burgundy, road Quebec Nordiques blue, All-Star blue, All-Star red and Team Sweden yellow.
Coach Tony Granato is here, feeling great about what may be the best set of forwards ever assembled on one professional hockey team. GM Pierre Lacroix is here, chiding a local reporter for printing a joke he made about the coming NHL Apocalypse (a.k.a. the expiration of the league's collective bargaining agreement). That event happens to be exactly one year from today -- Sept. 15, 2004. But Peter Forsberg is not here. Not here now ... and maybe not here a year from now.
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