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Foster feels season in Tampa Bay extended career

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- When Kurtis Foster signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the summer of 2009, he admits he wasn't sure where he was going in his hockey career.

It was his first season back after a horrendous leg injury, and he wasn't sure he could become the player he was developing into during three previous solid seasons with the Minnesota Wild.

He only spent one season with the Lightning, but Foster believes his time in Tampa Bay -- and especially his time around Lightning veteran forward Martin St. Louis -- was essential to him remaining in the NHL.

"The thing I learned about the most from Marty was his drive for the game," Foster said. "He's 37, 38 years old and he loves being at the rink every day. He's one of the hardest-working guys in practice every day. I think he knows to stay in this League when he was younger he had to do that being a smaller guy. Now that he's created the aura of himself in the League, you think he'd take a day off and he really doesn't."

That commitment and work ethic definitely left an impact on Foster.

"I went there coming off my leg injury and not knowing where my career was going to go," Foster said. "Marty for sure really pushed me every day in practice and in games to make better plays and expect more out of myself. He definitely helped me put a few more years into my career, [and] I can't thank him enough. … When you can follow a guy like that it's going to make you a better player."

The Flyers now are reaping the benefits. Foster's rocket of a shot from the right circle opened the scoring in Saturday's 5-3 win against the Carolina Hurricanes, and in the last few games he's become a steady presence on the Flyers' second power-play unit.

"He's kind of a secret weapon on the power play," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "He's got a pretty big shot. I'm sure Tampa is aware of it. He played there and was on their first [power play] unit."

And Foster said he plans on continuing to shoot.

"What I'm here to do is shoot the puck," he said. "When you can score a goal, a big goal to start a game, it goes exactly where I aimed it, it felt pretty good. To score my first goal as a Flyer was pretty awesome. You hear that horn go off a lot as a visitor, and it's never fun because you know it's getting the home team going, so it's nice to be on the other side of that and know that it's getting the crowd into it and get my teammates going."


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