By Melody Huskey
Special to Wild.com
Wild defenseman Kurtis Foster
returned to the NHL today after just under a year and a 63-game absence as he recovered from a broken leg suffered at San Jose on March 19, 2008. Recalled Feb. 28 from Houston, where he was on a conditioning assignment, Foster was last-minute addition to the lineup because Brent Burns was scratched due to illness. Foster missed the pre-game warm-ups, but went on to take 12 shifts.
“He was a little rusty,” said Lemaire. “It is not easy to come in. He was on the bike for an hour before the game and then Burns couldn’t play, so we told him at the last second, 'Get dressed, you’re playing.' So it’s kind of hard for him. But he did fine.”
Despite being a little rusty, Foster was excited at the chance to get back on the ice with his team after such a long time away.
“I just had to get dressed quick and get right out there," Foster said. "In the third period, my legs were a bit spent, but, by the time that I got out there and realized what was going on out there, and that I was back in the NHL, it was just fun to be out there, and I bet you couldn’t find me not smiling out there.”
With only 18 games remaining, Foster still feels confident that he can help his team turn things around.
“I still have a ways to go, there are still certain things I need to work on and certain things I need to improve, but for the most part I feel pretty good, pretty strong and I think that after a few games and getting confident again I could really help the team.”THREE QUESTIONS WITH: KURTIS FOSTER
Q: Can you describe separating the result from your personal achievement?
The biggest thing I look at is that we lost the game, and to a team we're fighting with for the playoffs. Other than that, I'm pretty happy and proud, and pretty excited about where I am. Hopefully, once I get a few more games, I can help the team out in getting a few more points and help us toward the playoffs.
Q: Can you describe the events leading to your insertion into the lineup?
I'd asked the coaches this morning if i was playing, and they said no. So I got a bike ride in and was doing some of my leg therapy and squats, and found out with 13 minutes before the game. Threw on the gear pretty quick.
First few shifts, I was a little tight after the bike ride. After being in the game, I got into everything and started to feel a lot better.
It was really surprising, but it was good. It almost didn't give me a chance to get nervous. I just went out there and played. It just felt great to be out there again, feeling the speed of the game, feeling the crowd and just feeling what it was like to be on the ice again.
Q: What would you give yourself for a grade your first game back?
Oh, i don't know [laughing]. I don't want to give myself a grade. Played about 10 minutes, and, for the most part, felt pretty strong. A few shifts, I was a little nervous early on, but I settled down and started feeling pretty comfortable.