The Wild held an optional practice at the Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday after a late night arrival backin the Twin Cities following a one-night stop in New York. Spirits were high after a heartburn inducing 4-3 win over the Islanders on Tuesday night.
Assistant coach Mario Tremblay oversaw a center ice three-on-three pond hockey game that featured goaltenders Dwayne Roloson and Manny Fernandez, and 11 skaters.
Included in the group were: defensemen Alex Henry, Filip Kuba, Kurtis "Bananaz" Foster and Andrei Zyuzin along with forwards Derek Boogaard, Brent Burns, Pascal Dupuis, Randy Robitaille, Stephane Veilleux, Wes Walz and Kyle Wanvig.
Goals were a lot easier to come by in the shinny game than normal. Perhaps the two goals being put at the blueline had something to do with it. As penance for losing, the red team made up of Walz, Foster, Wanvig, Dupuis and Kuba was forced to skate five laps.
Foster Feeling Better
Kurtis Foster was visibly upset last night after his collision with New York’s Jason Blake left Blake down for an extended period of time. As the two went after a loose puck, Foster’s stick slid underneath the skate blades of Blake, who ended up going head first into the boards as Foster fell on top of him.
Immediately after the hit, Foster checked on Blake, and saw him fall
| With a kind gesture, Kurtis Foster wished Jason Blake well as he was taken off the ice last night. |
back with his eyes closed. In a classy move that drew many admirers among Islander fans, Foster stayed near him as the training staff rushed to his aid.
“It was just a reaction,” said Foster about his decision to stay in the corner for nearly 10 minutes until Blake was taken of the ice. “I just tried to finish my hit. When I fell on him, I knew right away that something was going to be wrong with either his shoulder or head. When he fell back and his eyes were closed, I wanted to be there and make sure he got off the ice. It was hard to sit there and watch, especially being involved in it.”
When play resumed, Foster continued his shift despite being visibly shaken by the incident. It was a move that head coach Jacques Lemaire made to ensure that Foster could re-focus on the game.
“It was tough because of what had just happened,” admitted Foster. “I think it was better that I did stay out there instead of going back to the bench and thinking about it.”
The good news was that Blake was reported to be fine, though he was kept overnight at the hospital for observation. He had regained full mobility in his extremities, and doctors reported that there appeared to be no serious back or neck injuries.
Foster hopes to get in touch with Blake today.
“I haven’t gotten in touch with him yet, but I hope to today. I want to give him some time to recover and be with his family. I hope to at least leave a message today and wish him the best of luck. I hope he comes back soon.”
Foster’s class move brought back memories of another by a Wild opponent.
During a game in Detroit on December 12, 2002, Willie Mitchell was crushed against the boards by Sergei Fedorov, and immediately crumpled to the ice unconscious. Near the puck, and the play, Wings winger Brett Hull immediately stopped rushed to check on Mitchell as the action continued in the Wild zone.
Mitchell missed eight games with a concussion, and was appreciative of the compassion shown by Hull.
Kuba Getting Closer
Filip Kuba, who hasn’t played since suffering back spasms in the first period of a game against the New York Rangers on December 5, is getting closer to a return. Kuba said he is gaining mobility in his back, and is targeting Saturday’s game against Montreal for his return.
Head Coach Jacques Lemaire thinks it could be sooner.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow after we skate,” said Lemaire. “If he feels good, he’ll play.”