Sakic excited to be reunited with old mates Foote and Forsberg

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. - Joe Sakic was feeling a little nostalgic Friday, reflecting back on the Colorado Avalanche's glory days.

Those days are almost here again.

With Adam Foote already back in an Avalanche sweater and Peter Forsberg set to arrive in town soon, the Avalanche captain said Friday that it felt "like old times" around the locker room.

All that's missing is Patrick Roy in net.

Sakic, Forsberg and Foote helped guide Colorado to two Stanley Cup championships before the team was disassembled following the NHL lockout.

"It seems right that they're here," Sakic said. "It's too bad they both left, but it's great to have them back."

Or, in the case of Forsberg, almost back. He cleared a major obstacle Friday as his immigration papers were pushed through, paving the way for his impending arrival in Denver.

Forsberg is expected to skate at the Pepsi Center on Saturday morning, but coach Joel Quenneville labelled his availability for the game that night against the Los Angeles Kings as "very doubtful."

Quenneville thought it was more realistic Forsberg would play Tuesday night at home against Vancouver. Forsberg has been battling a nagging foot injury that has plagued him in recent years.

"It's more Peter's call because he knows his body," Quenneville said. "I'll visit with him in the morning and see how he feels."

Quenneville doesn't feel a need to rush Forsberg back into the lineup even though the season is dwindling to a close - only 17 games remaining - and the Avalanche are tied with Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Quenneville learned the art of patience through injuries to Sakic (hernia), Ryan Smyth (ankle) and Paul Stastny (appendectomy and groin) this season.

"You're going to be telling us when you're ready," Quenneville said. "We provide encouragement to play, but the players know their bodies and when they say they're ready to go, we'll then decide."

In Vancouver on Wednesday, Quenneville approached Sakic and Forsberg to see how they felt about skating on the same line upon Forsberg's return.

It wasn't a tough sell.

"We all know what Peter can do on the ice," Sakic said. "He's a tremendous hockey player."

That's why Ian Laperriere was lobbying hard to be included on that line. In fact, he talked Friday like it was already a finished deal.

"I can't wait to play with Peter on my line," Laperriere said with a grin.

Quenneville will be receiving quite a few volunteers to play on the Sakic-Forsberg line.

"Everybody might campaign for that opportunity to play with Peter," Quenneville said.

The Avalanche had plenty of success with Foote in charge of the defence the last time he was with Colorado. Foote is hoping for similar results.

"It's going to be exciting to be back in that building," said Foote, who was officially introduced at a news conference Friday, along with Ruslan Salei, a defenceman Colorado acquired from Florida.

Foote said he was caught off guard by the trade that sent him from Columbus to Colorado. He was summoned upstairs by the Blue Jackets on Tuesday and figured it was to sign his name to a new contract.

And then he found out he'd been dealt to Colorado.

"I was a little bit in shock," said Foote, who quickly caught a plane to Calgary later that night where he helped the Avalanche to an overtime win over the Flames. "It was an interesting day. It was disappointing for me not to sign (in Columbus) and finish a job, but it's exciting to come back here where I had great memories."

Foote had a lot of memorable moments in his first stint with the Avalanche. Same with Forsberg, who's fourth on Colorado's career scoring list with 741 points in 580 career games.

So, were the acquisitions of Foote and Forsberg an attempt to recapture the glory days?

"That's not the case at all," general manager Francois Giguere said. "In this day and age, the chemistry of a team is so important. We're getting two high-character guys and you never have too many of those."

With the signing of Forsberg, and acquisition of Foote, there's a buzz in Denver. Ticket sales have soared, along with expectations.

That's just the way the players want it.

"I remember (Sakic) saying in Calgary that management has done their part. We have to do our part," Smyth said. "That means go out and win. We've got to deliver now."



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