EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Peter Forsberg isnít hurt. He doesnít have the flu. No measles, mumps, or chicken pox either. Yet, heís going to miss at least the next week because his skates donít fit right.
Forsberg was scratched from the lineup Friday with continued discomfort in his right skate boot and will be out of the lineup until a proper replacement can be found.
"Heíll probably be out at least the next four games," said Flyers G.M. Paul Holmgren. "I think itís fair to say weíre frustrated with it now, just like Peter is. But, weíre not ready to wave the white flag just yet. Peter doesnít feel that way either. Weíre going to keep trying to find a solution for this. If there is one there."
Forsberg will undergo an extensive evaluation at Temple University Monday and then will fly to Montreal Wednesday to meet with representatives of the Bauer equipment company in hopes of constructing a skate boot that will fit his foot and allow him to play at or near his expected level.
"I wouldnít do any good on the ice," said Forsberg. "It feels like I canít turn..For my own safety too..I donít think itíll be good until we find a skate that gets better and we find a skate thatís at least close to where I should be and can keep my balance. Right now it doesnít feel like that at all."
Forsberg backed out of the lineup after the teamís Friday morning practice at Continental Airlines Arena.
After scratching himself from the lineup, an aggravated Forsberg threw his equipment across the locker room.
"He feels like heís actually hurting the hockey team, not helping by the way heís playing," said Flyers coach John Stevens. "So, itís not like thereís pain in the foot where he canít play, he becomes so unbalanced by the way it fits right now, heís unable to play beyond 50 percent."
The questions have been mounting about whether this is a medical problem and not just an equipment issue, but, Forsberg is high maintenance. He is a perfectionist, and the team has said the doctors who have examined the Flyers captain do not feel there is anything significantly wrong with the surgically repaired right foot or ankle.
"None of the doctors have alluded to that," said Holmgren. "We know his ankle is loose -- the ligaments -- but I was also on a conference call with Peter and Dr. (Brian Donley of the Cleveland Clinic) and he feels surgery is not an option to fix it. The only option he has is to work with some kind of brace or boot that is built to hold things in place, and thatís what weíre trying to do."
Forsberg concurred, giving specifics about the inner workings of his foot.
"Thereís nothing that can be done surgically about it," said Forsberg. "One of things that is happening is Iím stretching the small ligaments and maybe it has something to do with that, but I donít want to speculate. Thereís nothing you can do to fix those though. Theyíre too small to go in there and fix."
Since his arrival in Philadelphia, prior to last season, the Flyers have not fared to well without Forsberg in the lineup.
Last season they were 10-10-2 without him, and 35-16-9 with him. This year, they havenít won any of the five game prior to Friday that he missed (0-2-3), and are 8-13-1 with him - and thatís without him being anywhere close to the player he can be.
"Heís not a guy thatís easily replaced," said Stevens. "He creates a big hole in the lineup. For the last little while itís put a big focus on the team game and have everyone concentrate on the team game. Maybe by committee we can get some good things done here."
Meanwhile, the Flyers need to start weighing other options, as in what they can do to bolster the lineup if Forsberg is going to be in-and-out of the lineup for the remainder of the season.
"Is there something we can do that will make us better while weíre waiting for Peter," asked Holmgren rhetorically. "Well, weíre always looking to do that anyway. You can only do what you can do. Nothing is coming down the pike that we can do anyway.
"Weíve been proactive trying to find help, but there are certain guys that arenít going anywhere regardless."
As for Forsbergís future..well..it remains up in the air, and while he doesnít want to talk about it, retirement is looming as an option for the 33-year-old, two-time Stanley Cup Winner and two-time Olympic gold medalist.
"Of course Iím frustrated," said Forsberg. "Itís probably the hardest part of my career. I want to be out there and I canít help my team win.
"I donít want to think like that (about retirement). Thereís got to be a solution. Hopefully thereís a way to get it done. I know itís going to be hard and frustrating, but Iíve got to stay positive."
The Flyers sent Boyd Kane back to the Phantoms of the AHL, but with Forsberg out for the time being, chances are he will be back soon.