SUN Hockey Pool

Lemaire Wild about Foster

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

ST PAUL, Minn. -- Months before turning 24, Kurtis Foster knew it was too early to consider throwing in the towel on his hockey career.

Still, having been let go by Anaheim last summer, his third NHL organization including the Calgary Flames, who drafted him in the second round in 2000, left Foster wondering what his future held.

Especially since he believed his game was improving so much.

"Last year, I had a pretty solid season with Cincinnati and got my plus-minus rating up, plus-16, and worked on my defensive game," said the Minnesota Wild defenceman. "So when they let me go, there were a few days I wondered what else I needed to do. I know there was new management and they wanted to go in a different direction, and that's part of hockey. But there was a rough couple of days when you're so young, an unrestricted free agent and don't know what's going on."

Then came his first big break of 2005-06.

The Wild, who play host to the Flames tonight, came calling. It meant starting another season in the minors but Foster figured his best NHL opportunity could come with that deal.

"Minnesota was an organization my agent and I figured gave guys chances and it's worked out," he said. "I thought it'd be a great place and it's worked out so far."

Summoned by the Wild from AHL Houston in mid-November, the 6-ft. 5-in., 230-lb. defenceman made an immediate impact.

He became the first player in Wild history to score two goals in his team debut and has netted six goals and six assists in 23 contests.

Not bad for a player dealt away from Calgary to Atlanta with Jeff Cowan for Petr Buzek and then swapped to Anaheim.

Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire said Foster came to the organization at the right time.

"That is always a big factor for a guy that reaches the NHL," Lemaire said. "You come in at the right time, the team needs that kind of player and gives the biggest chance and you figure, 'If I do this, I'm gonna have a job here.'

"We needed a guy on the powerplay, he came in and did well, got confidence and has been good five-on-five."


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