SAN JOSE, Calif. - Minnesota Wild defenceman Kurtis Foster left the ice on a stretcher Wednesday night with a broken left leg after running into the boards in a collision with San Jose rookie Torrey Mitchell.
Foster, who has seven goals and 12 assists this season, was expected to have surgery to insert a stabilizing rod into his leg. The third-year pro's season is almost certainly over.
"I thought he was playing great," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "He was playing his best hockey. It's a big loss."
Foster was slightly ahead of Mitchell as they chased a puck toward the boards behind the Minnesota goal in the second period. The five-foot-11 San Jose centre, who was hoping to prevent an icing call, put out his arms just enough to disrupt the precarious balance of the six-foot-five Foster, who already appeared to be falling when the players' skates collided.
"I was just trying to get to the puck first," Mitchell said. "We collided, and obviously it was unintentional. You never want to hurt anyone, and I hope he's OK."
Foster went hard into the boards and remained on the ice for 12 minutes while medical personnel put a splint on Foster's leg and strapped him to a backboard. Foster was moving his head and talking to paramedics when they lifted him off the ice, and he shook hands with Sharks centre Jeremy Roenick.
The Wild said Foster was taken to O'Connor Hospital in San Jose with a displaced fracture of his left femur.
Mitchell got only a two-minute penalty for tripping, prompting anger from Lemaire.
"When you look at the game overall, I think it wasn't one of the best games refereed this year," he said.
Lemaire was uncertain how the Wild will replace Foster for the final three games of their four-game road trip.
"I will have to go and sit down and see what is left," he said.