While there are teams lining up for a chance to bring Peter Forsberg back into the NHL - the Flyers most certainly among them - an interview the Swedish star gave last weekend gives rise to the thought that he might not come back even if healthy.

In national newspapers, Forsberg is quoted as saying that the rehab for his newly repaired right ankle is going well and he might be playing competitive hockey again, but there is a chance he will stay home and play for his Swedish team, Modo.

In the article, read and interpreted before last night's game by Finnish Flyers defensemen Lasse Kukkonen and Kimmo Timonen, Forsberg is quoted as saying that his "rehab is going well and he has until midnight Thursday to sign with a Swedish team."

According to the interpretation of two Finns, Forsberg is seriously considering that "because there is less pressure than playing in the NHL."

Forsberg came very close to retiring early last fall when he tried to play in a tournament with the Swedish national team and didn't make it though the practices.

He quietly flew to Denver, where he had his troubled right foot operated on one more time. He had begun practicing again in hopes of first playing with the national team and then returning to the NHL before the Feb. 26 roster freeze.

Forsberg, 34, played 1 1/2 seasons with the Flyers before being traded to Nashville last February.

The Flyers are considered to be front-runners for his services, have been in contact on and off since late last year, and are awaiting his decision.

General manager Paul Holmgren reiterated yesterday that the Flyers would not hesitate to sign Forsberg, an unrestricted free agent, should he decide to return to the NHL. Holmgren had not heard of the center's latest comment until last night.

He said he wasn't concerned.

"From my conversations with [Forsberg's agent], I wouldn't really read a lot into that," Holmgren said.

"Peter wants to make sure his foot is healthy through a few more days of strenuous skating and I believe he's going to make a decision at that time. The translation of what was written there does not faze me at all." *