Turns out, the "C" fit on Forsberg's sweater about as well as his right foot fit in his skate.
The team captain and former NHL MVP never asked to be traded, but he never told chairman Ed Snider and general manager Paul Holmgren that he wanted to stay, either. So the Flyers had little choice. Watch him retire or sign elsewhere in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and lose him for nothing, or deal him and keep building toward what they hope will be a better future.
Forsberg was traded Thursday to Nashville for forward Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent and two draft picks, leaving the team with the fewest points in the NHL for the one with the most points in the Western Conference.
Allen Iverson. Terrell Owens. Jim Thome. Now Forsberg is tacked on the end of a list of Philadelphia superstars who left with championship dreams unfulfilled. Much like when the 76ers traded Iverson in December, the Flyers are mired in last place and playing to dwindling crowds.
"To say the least, it's been a very difficult stretch," Snider said.
Snider should know. He runs both teams, and no one realizes better that it's truly been a winter of dis-contend at the Wachovia Center.
The 33-year-old Swede had 11 goals and 29 assists in 40 games for Philadelphia this season. In almost two seasons with the Flyers, they went 50-36-14 with Forsberg in the lineup and 10-24-5 without him.
"I think we're fortunate that we had him over the last two years and it's unfortunate we had so many injuries," Snider said. "We weren't able to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish."
Coach John Stevens said it was too early to think about who would assume the captaincy. In the end, Forsberg's battle with foot and skate issues this season seemed symbolic of the Flyers' overall play: Neither could ever really find the right balance.
"It's been a really hard year," Forsberg said. "I don't think most people understand if you can't skate how hard it is to play hockey."