The Washington Times - April 10, 2013, 10:54AM

Kurtis Foster broke his left femur on an icing touch-up five years ago. To this day he thinks about it.

“When I go back to get a puck I think that it does cross my mind, and I do think about it,” the Philadelphia Flyers defenseman said. “But if I don’t go touch that puck, I can lose my job. That’s more important.”


Foster, whose broken bone caused him to miss 11 months from March 2008 to February 2009 while with the Minnesota Wild, supports changing the current touch icing rule. He wants to see hybrid icing, a race to the faceoff dots instead of the puck, experimented with in some exhibition games.

“I don’t think it would hurt anybody. And I think that it’s a part of the game that there’s no need for it,” Foster said. “A race for the puck, yeah it might be exciting, but the moment a guy goes down or something happens, it’s just not needed. And I think if you took a poll of players, I think that most guys would say that they’d be fine with it gone and a lot of players would say they’d be happy to see it gone.”

An informal poll taken in the Washington Capitals locker room showed that most defenseman like the current setup. As Steve Oleksy pointed out, it becomes less of a sure thing and more of a judgment call for linesmen.

Caps defenseman Karl Alzner likes touch icing, but he also acknowledged that if he suffered a broken heel bone like Joni Pitkanen of the Carolina Hurricanes, he might change his mind.

The 31-year-old Foster said he supported getting rid of the 76-year-old icing rule before his injury. Since, he has become more serious about it.

“I know there’s lots of injuries and lots of guys get hurt serious in games, but it’s a part of the game that’s not needed, in my opinion, and when you see guys get hurt because of that, I don’t want to say it’s stupid, but there’s no point to it,” Foster said.

Foster played for Tappara Tampere in Finland’s SM-Liiga during the NHL lockout and reported back that no-touch icing, automatic when the puck goes over the goal line, “doesn’t change the game.”

And his theory on changing the rule is based on reducing injury, but there’s more to it.

“I think it’s a part of the game that they talk about changing nets for offense, they talk about whatever- bigger blue lines a couple years ago and they took out the red line and all this stuff,” Foster said. “And the easiest way to do it right now is if you take out icings it leads to more offense because you’re in the zone more; you [get] offensive zone faceoffs, and it’s part of the game that you won’t miss anything but it will lead to more offense.”

Like ex-Caps center Pat Peake, Foster couldn’t watch a replay of Pitkanen’s injury. He happened to turn the game on, saw the 29-year-old defenseman on a stretcher and didn’t realize until later that it came on an icing play.

Foster knows all too well how dangerous those kinds of plays can be. But he also realizes that hybrid icing isn’t perfect, either.

“I think as a D-man when you’re going back for the puck, when the guy’s beside you or got a step on you, you play it a lot different,” he said. “But when a guy’s behind you and you don’t see him, that’s when stuff happens and that’s why I find that you can get surprised or you can lose your footing and stuff. When a guy’s beside you, you might play the body a little more, put yourself in a better position.

“The hybrid, yeah it will help, but there still is that race and you never know who’s going to step on a stick or who’s going to lose and edge or who’s going to bump a guy. There still could be something that happens.”

Foster managed to resume his career after his scary injury, but he doesn’t want to see a similar thing happen to other players.

“You risk injury in everything you do,” Foster said. “You don’t want to see more guys injured before they make a change.”