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Kurtis Foster returns to action with Houston

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
Kurtis Foster, making his somewhat remarkable return to game action with AHL Houston, has had the following to say during his return to professional hockey.

Wednesday, Feb. 18, 7:15 p.m. CST

Everyone's supportive -- even guys from Chicago tonight were asking how I felt -- but, for me, this is what I do. I love to play hockey. From the moment I was hurt, the first question I asked was, "Will I play again?"

To know that 11 months later I'm back here doing it, I don't even know how to explain it. It's an amazing feeling after all the hard work I've gone through.

I did it for myself, but I did it for the fans, too, and it's just what I love to do. -- Foster, Feb. 8

* * * WILD TV | Foster Timeline * * *
Feb. 23, 2009: Foster returns from AHL
Feb. 8, 2009: Foster plays with AHL Houston
Dec. 3, 2008: Foster returns to practice
Nov. 26, 2008:
Foster skates with teammates
Aug. 21, 2008:
Rehab, a way of life
April 12, 2008:
Delivering "Let's Play Hockey"
April 8, 2008:
Foster meets with the media

-- W

* BONUS PONDcast: K. Foster
Wild Radio's Kevin Falness catches up with Foster on the eve of his assignment (Feb. 7, 2009)

-- BLOG --
* The R.S.S. Feed (Feb. 7, 2009)
Aaron Sickman checks in from Parade with lots of extras, including comments from Foster

* Foster's recovery full of tedium (June 6, 2008)

HOUSTON -- We played last Friday and Saturday in Iowa, and pulled out a big win in coming from behind Friday, then the guys pulled out another one on Saturday, winning 7-6.

The interesting thing about playing in the AHL is the travel ...

After the game Saturday, we hopped on the bus for two hours to Omaha, got in around 1 a.m., and were back on the bus at 5:30 a.m. for a 7 a.m. flight that morning back to Houston. Then around 9:30 in Houston, we get back on bus again, took it 45 minutes to the hotel downtown and were on it again back to the rink for a 5 o'clock game against Chicago.

It was quite the whirlwind tour, but the guys pulled out a good, strong game on Sunday and we came away with two points again. Pretty good weekend, three wins in three nights. Against Chicago in Houston, we had a good start, then Chicago got its legs and made it 3-2. We made it 4-2 on the power play after that and ended up with the win.

I had two assists on Saturday and another two on Sunday night. Guys were making plays to get me the puck on the power play; I was getting my shots through and a couple rebounds went in. On top of that, guys were burying pucks on passes. Guys like Corey Locke and Krys Kolanos make it a little easier for me.

For the most part, I felt pretty good with the puck throughout the game. I'm starting to get a lot more confidence, working on my shot and getting it through, starting to make plays, seeing the ice well.

Now I'm trying to work hard in the defensive zone and make sure I don't get lazy -- I have to remember to move my feet.

One of the biggest assets you have is quick feet. There are quick and fast players in the NHL and they can make you look pretty silly on a dime. For me, coming back from a broken leg, I have to make sure I'm ready to move my feet. It's a different level of play in the NHL, where guys are quicker, bigger and stronger.

As for how far along I am, it's hard to put a number on it. I've just been trying to play a solid 15-20 minutes. For the most part, I feel like my left leg is probably sitting around 90 percent, and my right leg is 100. So, if you do the math, it's about 95 combined.

I feel pretty good. It's definitely not 100 percent normal yet and I can't just go out there and do my thing out there without thinking about it, but it's feeling really strong.

I took last Monday off, and I really have to make sure to rest, like not taking a morning skate, to make sure it stays strong for me. I'm a little heavier this year, up to about 230 when I used to play about 225. With the five-to-seven pound difference, I feel just as strong and just as fast as I was before. That weight helps in the corners down here.

As for when I might return to Minnesota, for the most part, I haven't really spoken to any management for a while. I talked to one of the coaches here the other day and he thought a couple more games would really help me out, and we play Thursday and another game Saturday.

I'll play a total of six games down here, four against Iowa and two against Chicago.

Hopefully after Saturday, it will be decided that I'm ready to go back up and be ready to play with the Wild. I want to be up there with the guys and be ready to help. All I can do is play hard and be ready to go whenever the Wild needs me. I know it's going to be tough; they have six quality D that are playing really strong right now.

I just have to make the coaches aware that I'm ready to go when the chance presents itself.

Sunday, Feb. 8, 9 p.m. CST



The Wild would like to thank the Chicago Wolves for providing the above video.

Foster, while on a bus with the Aeros en route after a win in Chicago (check out the recap for more) to the Twin Cities, reports from the road:

Last night, we took the bus from Quad Cities to Chicago. When we got in, it was around two o'clock in the morning, and, knowing we had to play today at five, I didn't get a lot of sleep.

I tried to get some on the way, but it was tough because I was pretty nervous. Once I got up this morning, though, and had breakfast with my parents and my wife, then had a little workout, I was pretty excited to play.

Other than that, it was mostly a regular day -- went down to the gym in the hotel, got a bike in, got warmed up a little bit, had pregame, took a nap, went to the rink. I went a little early because on top of everything we were in Chicago -- where I used to play -- so I have a lot of friends there.

Once I was finally in the room, it was nice being there. The guys here were all pretty supportive and jacked up. They knew how important it was for me. I also got a lot of messages from the guys back in Minnesota today.

Before the game and before warmups started, time was definitely in slow motion. I was getting pretty antsy, but once I got to warmups and started to do some circles and take some shots, it felt good to be out there again.

There was a little bit of a cheer when I first got on the ice, too. I can't even explain it. It was something that was kind of surreal. After the first shift was over, I went back to the bench, had a seat, and had a gasp there -- I was like, "OK, here I go. I'm back on the ice."

Me starting my pro career in Chicago, and a lot of fans knew me there, they had me on the scoreboard, and it was a pretty nice thing that I made my return there.

To get out there and test it out was fun.

I played pretty decent minutes, felt pretty good, and the leg felt strong. I took a few hits and gave a few hits, and realized what it was like to be in a game again. It was awesome.

In all, I played probably around 12-15 minutes. I played a regular shift, some power play and a little bit of PK. With about six minutes to go, it was 6-2 and the coaches decided from that point on there was no point in me playing after that.

Not watching anymore was the biggest thing. It made me smile out there.

I ended up being a little rusty, but for the most part it was a good first step, and the leg felt good out there, so it was fun. It was just the rustiness. That's just the way the game works, being 11 months off.

Then, after the game, my parents and my wife came down. We didn't talk hockey at all. I think they were just pretty excited. My mom had a few tears, my wife had a few tears. They know how hard it's been and they know how long it's been. To be out there with them in the stands, for my wife after everything she's gone through, it was a very accomplishing moment for me.

Now it's a good old six-hour bus back to Minny, and I'm sitting here eating some pizza and watching a movie, so I'm good. The guys are pretty excited about a big win tonight. They had a couple tough losses, so it was nice to end the weekend with a win.

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