Thursday, May 10
Updated: May 11, 6:02 PM ET

Doctor: Full recovery is expected
Associated Press

DENVER – Colorado Avalanche star Peter Forsberg will be out for the season after undergoing surgery to remove his ruptured spleen.

Forsberg, who leads the Avalanche in scoring, had surgery at 3 a.m. Thursday, the team said. That was after Colorado defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 Wednesday to advance to the Western Conference finals.

Team doctor David Mellman said he expects Forsberg to make a full recovery and that he could be ready to play next season.

The news about Peter Forsberg's emergency spleen removal is devastating not only to him, but also to the Colorado Avalanche, a team that has been geared toward winning the Stanley Cup.
  • Pang's complete analysis
  • "You can function perfectly without a spleen. I don't think there should be any restrictions," Mellman said.

    He said Forsberg's spleen was ruptured sometime during Wednesday night's game but he did not know when. He said Forsberg showed no symptoms before the game.

    Mellman said Forsberg would have to have regular immunizations to compensate for the work of the spleen, which is part of the body's immune system.

    The fist-sized organ, in the upper abdomen, filters foreign objects from blood and helps regulate blood to the liver. It can also manufacture blood cells.

    Pierre Lacroix, the Avalanche general manager, said Forsberg "was all white and in pain" when he saw him at a restaurant after the game.

    Lacroix said he, Forsberg, Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke and other players and team officials were at the restaurant when Forsberg first complained of discomfort.

    He said Forsberg told him, "I don't know what I've got. I've got a pain in my stomach."

    Thu, May 10
    It would seem that Forsberg sustained an impact during the game -- in hockey it would be very easy to be subjected to the injury in any number of ways, against the boards, with a stick, another player's shoulder or knee -- and didn't show symptoms for some hours after the game.
  • Dr. Punch's complete analysis
  • About 20 minutes later, when the pain became worse, Forsberg was taken to Rose Medical Center in Denver, where a CAT scan revealed spleen damage and internal bleeding.

    Doctors decided to operate immediately, Mellman said. The surgery lasted two hours.

    Mellman said recovery would take months.

    "It's a slow recovery from abdominal surgery," he said. "It's a lot of pain. Other than that, he just has to get his strength back and return to normal daily activities."

    It was the third time in the playoffs that the Avalanche have been without a key player.

    Defenseman Ray Bourque missed the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals with a strained back. Center Joe Sakic missed two games and most of a third in that series with a bruised right shoulder.

    Forsberg, 27, has had four goals and 10 assists in the playoffs. He had 27 goals and 62 assists during the regular season. In February he played in his sixth consecutive All-Star game.

    Lacroix said he thought the team would overcome the loss of Forsberg in the playoffs. "A team filled with the experience of this hockey club, they will use this adversity in a positive way," he said.

    The Avalanche are scheduled to play the St. Louis Blues on Saturday in Denver in the first game of the Western Conference finals.

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