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Healthy Foster excited to join Flyers at camp
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VOORHEES, N.J. -- When San Joses Torrey Mitchell drove Kurtis Foster into the back boards on an icing back in March of 2008, there were two consequences.

Foster shattered his left femur. And the NHL would change the rules about players playing the puck instead of the man on icing.

Foster missed the rest of Minnesotas season and would not return for almost a year. When he did, his skating was labored.

All that changed, thanks to Kevin Haller, a physiotherapist in Bellevue, Wash. He helped give Foster most not all of his mobility back.

On Sunday, the Flyers signed Foster to a one-year deal at 950,000, to fill what general manager Paul Holmgren termed, a gap hole on the clubs injury-riddled blue line.

Haller is a guy, who I wouldnt say whether it is medicine or physiotherapy, its just almost like he makes you work with your mind and body to make it work together, Foster said Sunday.

For so many years, I was coming back off injuries just to play. I wasnt thinking about how much I was using my left leg versus my right leg.

Haller made Foster think about how muscles interact and how Foster was overcompensating for his past injury. It was detracting from his skating.

He made me realize I have to pay more attention, Foster said. I feel my left leg is as good or better as when I got injured.

Foster will always have some muscle deficiency in the left leg, but he believes Haller has given him a few more NHL seasons.

This will be Fosters 11th season, after playing with both the Devils and the Wild in 2011-12.

Foster was on the ice with the Flyers during the teams first day of training camp, playing with different d-men, including Nick Grossmann and Andrej Meszaros.

At 6-foot-5, 225, hes impossible to miss on the ice.

Im happy to be a Flyer, he said. Definitely feels pretty good to put on a Flyers jersey. Youve never hard a bad thing about the organization.

First class, treat their players well and when you have a forward group like we do, its fun to get the puck up to them. I get the chance to shoot the puck as much as I can.

Ah yes, the shot. Foster has a cannon of a blast from the point. And hes right-handed, something the Flyers sorely lacked among their veteran group once Pavel Kubina departed after last spring.

It should be mentioned Foster incurred a separated right shoulder during the lockout playing for Tappara Tampere in Finland. Relax. Hes fully recovered.

I went to hit a guy in the corner, missed and hit the boards, Foster said. Doctor said he finds that a lot of big guys who go down, when they miss a check, their arm goes down and it splits.

Within the first week, I was already shooting. No problem. As soon as five weeks came, I was back.

Foster, who averaged 15 minutes, should get ample playing time with the Flyers, especially at the start, if Meszaros is not ready. And even when Meszaros is back, Foster is going to find minutes because coach Peter Laviolette wants to use him with Meszaros on the second unit power play.

Today they had me on the second unit which I am happy to start on, Foster said. My job is to shoot. Get my shots on net and be a little selfish that way.

Interestingly, Chris Pronger, who does video scouting for the Flyers during his post-concussion rehab, gave the club a recommendation on Foster.

With Chris being out, there was an opportunity on the blue line and I felt this is a team that has some great forward on the first and second power play, Foster said.

When you are on the power play its because its something you are very good at. Its nothing new. Its a different role for me in that I usually play the right side and Ill play let but that means I just shoot. I will never complain about that.

Pronger and Foster are friends. Both played junior at Peterborough, though Pronger passed through there years before Foster.

Hes always been good to me, Foster said. Hes a guy when I was younger, you definitely watched and played.

Im not sure if and when he will be around, but hopefully, he could give me a few pointers on how it works around here. Hes a player you look up to.

Foster played 28 games with the Devils before being moved to the Wild at the trade deadline.

He knows a little about the Flyers style and especially, the brand of hockey played in the Atlantic, which is the best division in the Eastern Conference.

Last year, I got a taste of what it was like in this division, Foster said. Having the rivalry against the Rangers was something I had never been part of. In Minnesota, we had some rivalries but not like that with NY and NJ. Theres definitely a hatred there.

I know it is going to be the same way with every team in the division, starting with Pittsburgh. I watched last year those teams playing each other. It was fun to watch. And maybe even better to play in.

Laviolette threw a lot of systems work at Foster the second he arrived after three flights and a couple of days getting here to Philly.

Everywhere you go there is a little bit of a twist but it is all basically the same and it comes down to usually one D in the corner and one covers the net, Foster said.

You get the breakdown the first day of what its going to be and its a crash course on what its going to be.

Ive been around on quite a few teams now and gotten a sense of what most systems are like. Nothing really surprises you. I have a good bearing on what they want to do.

Just defend and shoot the puck. Thats enough for the time being.

Lines
Given the first day of camp, its not unusual everything was all over the ice. The big deal was Brayden Schenn not Jakob Voracek skating on the top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Rookie prospect Scott Laughton was with Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read; Sean Couturier was between Max Talbot and Voracek; Ruslan Fedotenko centered Tye McGinn and Zac Rinaldo. ... Lines changed for the second sessions with Voracek up there in place of Schenn. ... Danny Briere (left wrist) was not on the ice, as expected. He will see the team doctor Monday.

D-pairs
It was mixed up with Meszaros, coming off Achilles tendon rehab, rotating but shook out to be Grossmann with Foster; Braydon Coburn with Meszaros; Luke Schenn with Kimmo Timonen. If Meszaros cant start the season, either Bruno Gervais or Andreas Lilja goes in. ... Flyers now have three right-hand shots on point: Foster, Schenn and Gervais.

Loose pucks
Injured reserve: Chris Pronger (post-concussion syndrome), Matt Walker (hip) and Marc-Andre Bourdon (post-concussion syndrome). Erik Gustafsson (bone bruisefoot) was never called up. ... Pronger came into camp Sunday but will not skate. ... Holmgren said Bourdon is two weeks from playing. ... This was easily the largest crowd the Flyers have had at Skate Zone since it opened in 2000 almost 3,000 people. The parking lot filled up by 10 a.m. and cars were eventually turned away. Crowds seemed double anything the club has ever had here. ... Cant remember the last time we saw assistant general manager John Paddock on the ice. But he was for both sessions on Sunday.

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net