December 29, 2007

Hirsch Stung By Forsberg Again

The Swedish postal authority is not likely going to make this picture into a postage stamp, but much of Sweden must sure be enjoying this picture today:

That's Tobias Forsberg scoring against Jonathan Bernier with just 7 seconds left in the Canada-Sweden 2008 World Junior Championships round robin game. Hey, even if you're a Canadian, you have to admit that was a finish for the ages!

If the scene of a Swedish guy named Forsberg ending Canadian dreams seems familiar, think back to the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. The gold medal game was between Sweden and Canada, and went right down to the wire. In fact, that Olympic gold medal was decided by a sudden death shoot out. Peter Forsberg, no relation to Tobias, scored one of the most magnificent goals in the history of the sport for a thrilling ending.

Canada's goalie in 1994 was Corey Hirsch. He happens to be the goalie consultant for Team Canada's junior team, and was in the building to witness a second Forsberg stick a dagger into Canadian hopes.

Hirsch was a great junior goalie and a very good goalie on the international stage. He never found his way in the National Hockey League though, best known as a Vancouver Canuck. After spending years in the minor leagues, he headed over to Europe where he played until 2005. He made headlines during the NHL lock out by accusing NHL players who fled to European leagues of being "scabs."

Hirsch will always be remembered for the Forsberg goal against, especially since the moment became iconic thanks to a postage stamp.

The 1994 gold medal was Sweden's first Olympic gold in hockey, and Posten AB, the Swedish postal service, decided to use the overhead image of Forsberg's goal to create a stamp to help launch the 1995 IIHF World Championships being held in Sweden. Of course Forsberg was delighted to give his permission to be represented on the stamp, Hirsch said the goal represented the most embarrassing moment of his career and declined.

Some reports suggested he demanded $100,000 to agree to be on the stamp, but Posten AB worked around his disapproval. Designer Lars Sjööblom changed the color of Hirsch's uniform from red to blue and his jersey number from "1" to "11" in order to "disguise" him. It was also reported that Hirsch considered suing over using his altered likeness, no such suit was ever filed.
By The Way: Peter Forsberg said he copied that move from Swedish legend Kent Nilsson, who used it back in the 1989 World Championships. Nilsson used that move against USA's John Vanbiesbrouck.

Did You Know? Tommy Salo was the Swedish goalie in the Olympic game and shoot out back in 1994. He had to stop Paul Kariya before the Swedes could celebrate a gold medal victory.


Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful goal, but curse the Olympics for giving the NHL the ridiculous shootout. A gold medal won on a breakaway drill? Heaven help us if the NHL ever decides to use this in the playoffs---which I BET it will eventually!

Goaltender Interference said...

As you can see from the photo, the goalie was standing and the crease is blue. The stamp shows the goalie as sprawled out on the ice and the crease is the "old style" white with the box and semi-circle.