May 21, 2001
DENVER, COLORADO: Game Five
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
JEAN MARTINEAU: First of all, let me begin by thanking everyone in this room here for their patience and the respect that everyone has shown toward this matter. Without any further delay, I'm going to ask you to direct your questions either to Peter or to David Mellman. We thought that it was important that Dr. Mellman would still be here today. So we're ready and Peter is ready to answer your questions. Go ahead.
Q. How do you feel, Peter?
PETER FORSBERG: It's good. There was a couple of rough days, but right now it feels good. Everything is going perfectly. And so it's not really any problems. It still hurt as little, but not any major problems.
Q. When you say it feels good, what can or cannot you do?
PETER FORSBERG: I can walk around with no pain and do most things I want to do. I that cut the muscles. I'm not going to do any situps or anything like that or play hockey. But real life things, it's no problem.
Q. How (inaudible) on a scale of one to ten?
PETER FORSBERG: Of course it's tough. You sit and watch the games, so it I'm fortunate to be here. When you sit and watch the game, it's rough, tough, but it's been great so far.
Q. How (inaudible)?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, of course I was lucky, I was close to a doctor. But if you play hockey, if I didn't play in the professional or nothing, we got doctors around the team 24 hours. So I never really thought about that at all. If anything happens, because we're in the situation we are, you get hit and stuff, there's doctors around all the time. So I was not worried about that. But I guess if we were playing on the road, we would be flying home. That would be tougher. I never thought that would happen, that I would never be here today. But the doctors are great. And they're right there, so it went fine.
Q. Would you say this was the scariest moment of your life?
PETER FORSBERG: Yes. It was a little tough. We had a couple tough hours there. I never knew what was going on until I got into shock there up at the hospital. Because a little pain there, but I didn't really know what it was. Until it started really bothering me when I got to the hospital. I was not real scared because you've got so many doctors around telling you it's going to be fine. I guess it wasn't really fine.
Q. (Inaudible) you found out that you were going to be out the rest of the post season, what went through your mind?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, of course when they tell you, they didn't say I was out for the playoffs first, they said it was my spleen and you're going to be all right. When it comes to that, hockey is in the second. Of course it's tough to miss the rest of the playoffs. But I guess there was other concerns from the beginning. And I'm just happy that everything went fine and how I can start to think about hockey when everything is fine.
Q. You probably learned a lot more about the spleen in the last few weeks than you wanted to know. When you look back at tapes or thought back to when this could have happened?
PETER FORSBERG: I think it's a possibility it could happen before Game 7. I have no clue exactly when. I had a little mark there after Game 5, but it was nothing major or anything. But, I mean, it could have happened any time. I just don't have an a clue. I didn't know until I got to Chop House afterwards. I thought it was fine. I was talk about next round. Next I was at the hospital couple hours later. I have no clue when it happened. I guess we'll never know.
Q. Did anybody look at that mark?
PETER FORSBERG: No. It was nothing. You get scratches and marks everybody after games. Who would have thought it was the spleen that was ruptured. That's the only thing I can think about. I have no clue when it could have happened.
Q. Have you talked to any other players, current or former, who have gone on to play without a spleen?
PETER FORSBERG: No. I have not personally talked to anyone. But I read story in the papers, people that had it removed. And everybody's fine, I guess. You can function without it no problem. And so I don't think that's going to be any problems.
Q. What kind of response have you gotten from the fans, from the teammates?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, you know, it was kind of weird. Because I didn't know what was going on Thursday or Friday. Because I was a little drugged up and stuff, so it was tough. There was a lot of people wishing me well and I was shocked when I got out of the hospital, when I heard what happened. A lot of people sending emails and really thanks for that, to the people doing that. It's been great.
Q. How about contact with your teammates?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, they came bay Friday, most of them came by Friday. And actually everybody came by Friday and visited me. It's still tough to see the teammates and they didn't really know what was going on until Thursday morning when everybody was all over. It was great. The teammates came by and of course it's tough meet them and say I can't play for the rest of the playoffs, but everybody was happy to see that I could walk around and be okay.
Q. Before you understood the severity of the injury, did you sit back and say, "Sew this up, I've got to play?"
PETER FORSBERG: No. Not really. I mean, when I was at the Chop House, I didn't really know what it was. Sometimes you're hurt after the game I didn't think it was major. But I went up and to the room there and I sat down and I thought we better call a trainer there. I never thought it was going to be any severe things until we made the CAT scan and stuff like that and start really hurting a lot. And by then, it was hurting so much. So I didn't really care, to be honest about hockey at all. I just wanted to go in surgery to be honest with you.
Q. Safe to say the worst pain you've ever felt?
PETER FORSBERG: I would say so.
Q. Did you ever consider for a second the possibility that you should quit playing hockey?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, when something like this happens a lot of thoughts go through your mind. But it's a little tough. It's not like you break a foot, you lose an organ. But everything's going to be fine. I'm not worried about that. I'm going to keep on playing hockey. There shouldn't be any problems.
Q. How strange is it to watch playoff games on television?
PETER FORSBERG: It's really tough when you're winning. It's so much easier when you're losing. When we were up 3-0, it was fine. When we were 3-3, I was a little nervous. Of course you want to be out there. It's tough to watch you team play with and to play. It's the best time of the year, it's the best thing you can do in hockey is play the semis. It's real tough.
Q. Have you thought at how that might have gone for you if you weren't around people that were looking out for you?
PETER FORSBERG: I thought a little bit about it. But the pain was by 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning was so severe. So I would have seeked a doctor anyway, everybody if I would have been home or not played hockey or anything. I would have been at the hospital.
Q. Any idea how long the recovery process is going to take?
PETER FORSBERG: You've got to ask the doctor about that.
DR. MELLMAN: Peter's making a great recovery right now. He did great at the hospital and since he's been out of the hospital he's really done well. He's walking well and eating. It's somewhat variable how long it will take. The incision was through his muscles. It's going to take some time for those muscles to heal up and the strength to come back and the stamina to come back in terms of skating. But it's really highly unlikely that he's going to be able to play during these playoffs. We feel very confident he'll be fine for the start of the next season.
Q. You say highly unlikely. Is there a hope?
DR. MELLMAN: Again, very, very unlikely that he can play now.
Q. What happens now as far as doctor visits or what he has to do?
DR. MELLMAN: He's following up with the medical staff here that take care of the Avalanche players and Dr. Simon, the surgeon who actually performed the surgery. And really now it's a matter of getting strength back and he'll continue to follow-up with us on a regular basis. And be directed on what to do in terms of rehabilitation.
Q. Can he get on skates again?
PETER FORSBERG: I'll do it tomorrow. But I've got to get permission.
DR. MELLMAN: He won't be playing tonight.
Q. Is it okay, doctor, if he shows up here in person and goes through the stress of watching his team play?
DR. MELLMAN: You better watch Peter play. It's fine from our standpoint.
PETER FORSBERG: Of course I'll be here tonight.
Q. Were you feeling any stomach pain at all in Game 6?
PETER FORSBERG: Not at all. I did not feel anything until and hour after the game.
Q. Were you conscious right throughout the whole Chop House thing right until the anesthetic?
PETER FORSBERG: No. I did not pass out or anything. I think I went to shock right before we went to surgery, yes. But not at the point of Chop House, no.
Q. Peter, have you given up hope on playing in these playoffs?
PETER FORSBERG: I got told right off the bat when we did the surgery, I was not going to play in the playoffs. But it's going to take a while to heal. And I don't think it's going to be healed, no.
Q. Doctor Mellman, can you describe what might have caused this and what happened when the spleen ruptured.
DR. MELLMAN: Again, just to reiterate what Peter said, we don't have any idea when the hit happened. It could have happened in previous games and he had a small bleed that was completely asymptomatic and then later on during that game he sustained a blow or twisted or moved to reopen a bleed. But what probably happened was that Peter's bleeding progressed and the bleeding accumulated in his abdomen. He became more symptomatic in terms of pain and also just with the fact of blood loss he became more symptomatic. So we really don't know, just like with said before, when it happened and we talked about it with Peter a lot about when it could have happened. There's really no clue. It progressively worsened as he progressively bled into his spleen and into his abdomen. And I said before, the care in the emergency room was excellent. His life really was not in danger. Things went very smoothly. His recovery after the surgery was tremendous.
Q. Could it have happened as son as Game 5?
DR. MELLMAN: I truly have no idea. I honestly don't think we'll ever know when the series of blows occurred to cause the injury.
Q. How common is this injury in sports?
DR. MELLMAN: I it's a very uncommon injury, you hear about it most offer with car accidents or severe abdominal trauma. As a lot of us read in the paper, there's multiple cases reporting of football players and other athletes getting injuries and having to have a splenectomy. That's what happened with Peter in term of functions, the spleen will not have any effect in terms of his function.
Q. Does it come from a direct blow to the spleen area?
DR. MELLMAN: It comes from different areas. It can come from a series of different places.
Q. We were told out for the playoffs for sure. Positively absolutely. I don't hear that today.
DR. MELLMAN: Certainly after the surgery, we thought there is absolutely no chance he's going the play. Today we're saying the chances is very, very minimal. There's so many issues involved. The healing or his abdominal muscles and Peter's stamina and really the most important thing is Peter's return to hockey. He's done great in terms of returning to life. But it's a huge step going back to hockey.
Q. You know firsthand how garbled things can get around the world. What reaction are you getting from family and friends?
PETER FORSBERG: Not a whole lot of people knew about it in Sweden until it was all over. It went so quick. But it's been written a lot about in the papers and stuff like that. A lot of people have been writing in. But it was kind of a big story there, too.
Q. Doctor, does he have to be on some sort of medication to play?
DR. MELLMAN: No. The only risk really is infections down the road. It's a very minimal risk and Peter received vaccinations to help prevent those. There's no medication that he would need to play hockey.
Q. I understand you got a bunch of flowers sent to you. You passed them out?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, I didn't really know what was going on there Thursday morning or Friday. I was given a few flowers in the hospital. And I think everybody got sent those. But of course you take a look at them and it was kind of a lot of flowers. I was not going to keep any of them.
Q. You passed them out to the patients?
PETER FORSBERG: Yes. Most of them went to the Children's Hospital, yes.
Q. Peter, all the pain that you went through and the fact that doctor say you're going to return no problem with no repercussions do you wonder why you had a spleen to begin with?
PETER FORSBERG: I guess. I didn't even know what a spleen was. But I mean of course when something like that happens, you just never know if -- like I never heard it happen been before. I heard it once now, and Frederick Olausson he played for the Anaheim for a couple years, he played and he got hit. His spleen really was crushed and he was almost close to passing out. And so that's the closest story I heard. Unfortunately it happened, but it happened. I'm going to be fine now. That's all I care about.
Q. Talk about how difficult it was to watch the game on TV. How tough will it be to be here?
PETER FORSBERG: It's going to be even harder. But the good thing is we're up 3-1. It would be tougher if we're down 3-1. We've have to watch the game and have a good chance. The team is playing great right now. So that makes it so much easier to watch the game.
Q. Doctor, the medical condition that Peter's talking about, going into shock, is that shock from pain or blood loss or emotional shock?
DR. MELLMAN: He did have some blood loss. The medications he got would lower a person's blood pressure. It's several different factors.
Q. Is there a window of opportunity for that?
DR. MELLMAN: Peter says he was, quote, in shock. In terms of strict medical definition, he was probably not in shock. He had lot of pain, tremendous pain. That was probably the number one issue. As I said before, he did have some blood loss which contributed to that. The pain medications will also lower your blood pressure.
Q. Pete can you talked about the pain? Can you describe it?
PETER FORSBERG: Well, it started out kind of left side under my ribs and went out to the shoulder. I could barely move my arm there after a while. That's when I decided to call the doctor and it just got worse. It's a constant pain and I think if you have a lot of blood there, I think that's what caused it. But it was just tough to move around and every time I moved, it hurt a lot.
Q. Is it tough going through something like this with your family on the other side of the world?
PETER FORSBERG: I think it's pretty tough to go through it anyway, but of course when you've got your family back home. But everything went so fast. I got told right off the bat, everybody's going to be fine. There's not going to be any severe problems down the road or nothing. So it was not really a problem. My family didn't really hear. Pierre called them and let them know. So of course they got word for a while, but everything went fine.
Q. Will you be traveling with the team?
PETER FORSBERG: I will not be traveling with the team tomorrow, no. If it's a Game 7 -- a game 6, I mean. We'll see after that what happens. But I will not go to Game 6 if there's a Game 6.
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