EDMONTON - For all the players in Edmonton who are trying to re-establish themselves after injury, underachievement, collective failure or Super Bowl parties in Scottsdale, this might as well be The Island of Misfit Toys.
So Kurtis Foster needn’t worry about being all alone on the comeback trail. In a season predicated entirely on fresh starts and new beginnings, he fits right in.
“They (the Oilers) know I’ve been around for a couple of years but they know I want to prove myself again as a guy who can play a lot of minutes in this league,” said Foster, who’s one-year removed from a gruesome leg injury that almost ended his career. “They’re giving me every opportunity and that’s all I can ask.”
Foster, who missed 11 months and still has a rod in his surgically-repaired leg, came back strong in Tampa last year — a career high 42 points in his first season back — but it wasn’t enough to convince GM Steve Yzerman to invest another contract in the six-foot-five blue-liner.
Steve Tambellini had no such reservation and signed him to a two-year, $3.6-million deal.
“Coming here, my wife and I kind of looked at it as a new beginning, hope that a lot of positives come from here,” said Foster, who likes that a lot of people in the dressing room are expecting the same things out of this season.
“You can see from the first couple of days of camp that a lot of guys are excited, guys have smiles on their face, they want to be out there. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”
What’s also a surprise is that the NHL took this long to finally address the issue of injuries on icing plays — like the one that snapped Foster’s femur.
The league is test-driving a proposed change that will give linesmen the ability to call an icing based on which player reaches the faceoff dot first, not the puck.
“I think it’s a great idea. There’s no need in this game for a race to the puck on icing any more,” said Foster, who can’t understand why the league has been so terribly slow to react. “They’re probably GMs who’ve been in the league a long time and don’t want to see the game change, and they don’t have a rod in their leg and three screws.
“A lot of us players don’t want to see the game change, either, but if you can change something that will stop somebody going through what I went through ... I don’t want anybody else to go through what I went through.”
He says the rod and rebuilt leg aren’t a problem, as evidenced by last season’s totals. But maybe in mid-January we’ll ask him again.
“I haven’t been through minus-40 degree weather in Edmonton yet so when that happens we’ll see,” laughed Foster, who’ll gladly give up the Tampa weather for a chance to continue the comeback in Edmonton.
“When I was in Minnesota that year it was probably the longest 11 months of my life. Now I get to come out and play for a Canadian team like the Oilers it’s kind of a dream come true. It makes it all worth it.”