Saturday night’s game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators featured the debut of Nashville’s newest Predator Mike Fisher, or as the headline writers at the Tennessean refer to him, Carrie Underwood’s husband.
But the increased media presence on press row high atop Bridgestone Arena was not a result of People, US Weekly, or even Perez Hilton flocking to Nashville to be the first to ask Fisher, “Who are you wearing tonight?”
It was Reebok by the way, since they make all of the NHL jerseys.
No, the reason for the shoulder to shoulder media was because of the presence of one Peter Forsberg, who played in his second game with the Avalanche since signing with Colorado earlier this week. And to say that Forsberg is still a huge story in Sweden is a gigantic understatement. There were eight members of the Swedish media at Saturday’s game with representatives of both print and television in attendance.
Granted, some of them are based in the U.S. so they all did not fly across the Atlantic for the game, but it is still an impressive turnout on their part.
Following the 5-3 Nashville win, the Swedish contingency poured into the Colorado locker room to talk to their national hockey hero. The English-speaking media had to yield to their Swedish counterparts until all of their questions were answered.
Meanwhile, just down the hall, there was another Swede who just happened to be the game’s number one star whose performance went largely unnoticed by the scribes in town from his home country.
Patric Hornqvist gave a great quote last year when he said that he, “Always wants to be the best Swede on the ice.”
Saturday night he had a tall order in front of him with Forsberg in the building, but he did just that.
“It’s nice to have a nice game when he is around,” Hornqvist said. “You need to have a great game if you want to be the best Swede on the ice against him.”
It was the first time Hornqvist was ever on the ice against the man who has his image on a postage stamp back in Sweden.
“I grew up watching him all the time,” Hornqvist said. “It was a big honor to see him skating around.”
Even one of Forsberg’s former coaches is still impressed with what he can do on the ice.
“I’ll tell you what, Peter Forsberg is still dynamite,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s still hard to handle. It’s amazing, don’t play and you are that hard to handle in the best league in the world. I have a lot of admiration for Peter Forsberg. He is one of those rare, rare athletes that you don’t see too often.”
When asked what kind of attention Hornqvist or fellow Nashville Swede Anders Lindback garners back home, one of the Swedish television folks simply replied, “Not much.”
Hornqvist had a goal and an assist Saturday night. His goal came at the 4:11 mark of the third period when the Predators were trailing 3-2. From behind the Avalanche net, David Legwand sent a pass to Hornqvist in the low slot. The puck was in his feet, but he calmly collected the puck and put it on his blade before beating Colorado goaltender Peter Budaj with a wrist shot.
Asked if he expected any attention from the Swedish media, Hornqvist was unsure.
“Who knows?” he said. “They will maybe come over later.”
One TV reporter and his cameraman.