SAN JOSE -- Kurtis Foster's broken left leg is the latest gruesome reminder of the dangers of touch-up icing in the fast-paced NHL.
The Minnesota defenseman will miss the rest of the season, including the playoffs, after crashing hard into the boards Wednesday night during a race to the puck with San Jose rookie Torrey Mitchell. Foster had surgery Thursday to repair a displaced fracture in his femur, and a stabilizing rod was put into his leg.
Mitchell, who unintentionally touched and tripped Foster just enough to upset his balance, was trying to prevent an icing call against the Sharks by racing to touch the puck before Foster. Icing occurs when a defensive team shoots the puck across two red lines and puts it behind the other team's goal -- but play doesn't stop unless the offensive team touches the puck first, leading to several scrambles for the puck in most games.
Some of those scrambles are mildly exciting, but Foster's injury is just the latest in a long line of nasty injuries caused by those mad dashes and quick stops. Despite nearly annual discussions in league meetings, including last month's general managers' meetings, the NHL still hasn't adopted no-touch icing, in which referees stop play as soon as an iced puck crosses the goal line.
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"It's just one of those things that tells you there should be automatic icing, which I've been talking about for years," Sharks coach Ron Wilson said after the game. "But I guess that's a play that people -- at least I've heard -- that's what fans love to see, a big car wreck like that.
"I don't know the extent of (Foster's) injury, but whatever it is, we shouldn't have those kinds of car wrecks."
Just as the NHL refuses to require the use of visors in a sport with frozen pucks flying at players' faces, Wilson thinks a combination of tradition, perceived excitement and machismo keeps no-touch icing out of the league.
Others also say the no-touch rule slows down the game with a handful of extra stoppages in play.
"We've talked about it at (NHLPA) meetings," Toronto forward Matt Stajan told the Canadian Press on Thursday. "It comes up every year. It's up to the competition committee. I'm sure they'll look at it again in the summer."
THURSDAY'S GAMES -- Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, and Pittsburgh moved into a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2 win over visiting Tampa Bay. Pittsburgh and New Jersey both have 91 points, one fewer than Eastern Conference-leading Montreal. ... Jason Spezza scored his 31st goal to lead host Ottawa to a 3-2 win over St. Louis. ... Alex Kovalev had two goals and an assist, and Carey Price made 34 saves to help visiting Montreal beat Boston for the 10th consecutive time, 4-2. ... Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored in the shootout for Carolina, which snapped host Florida's team-record-tying seven-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory. ... Dominik Hasek earned his 385th NHL victory, tying him for 10th place with Mike Vernon on the career list, as visiting Detroit beat Nashville 6-3. ... Daymond Langkow and Craig Conroy scored first-period power-play goals to lead host Calgary past Colorado 2-1. ... Patrick O'Sullivan scored in a shootout to help visiting Los Angeles beat Phoenix 6-5. ... Matt Pettinger's late second-period goal helped Vancouver win its third in a row, 4-1 over host Edmonton.
ZEDNIK SKATES -- Florida's Richard Zednik skated for about 10 minutes before his teammates practiced, enjoying the ice for the first time since a near fatal injury in February when his throat was slashed by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate.
"I didn't want to leave," Zednik said. "I felt like it was time to go back."
Zednik says his recovery is going well, though doctors still haven't cleared him to work out.