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Tampa Bay Lightning's Kurtis Foster takes "bill" for broken glass in stride

TAMPA — Lightning D Kurtis Foster was asked to come out of the locker room the other day after practice to talk to serious-looking Tom Miracle, ice operations manager at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Miracle had a fistful of paper — an order form made out to Foster for the cost of four sheets of glass and a filled-out payroll reduction form for him to sign. Foster, the guy whose slap shot was once measured at 101 mph, has broken the glass four times at the Times Forum this season, including against Atlanta on Jan. 23 and Montreal on Wednesday.

"It was a joke; everybody said he had a good sense of humor," Miracle said. "I talked to (coach) Rick Tocchet in the morning, and he said, 'He'll get a kick out of it.' "

Foster did. "I told them if they wanted to bill me, I'd fight it till the bitter end," he said, smiling.

A sheet of the plexiglass that Foster keeps damaging, the panel behind the goal, runs about $400. It's almost a half-inch thick.

Miracle was getting information Friday on the cost of a harder product, a sheet that's a true half-inch thick and might better withstand shots from the likes of Foster.

"He's got a monstrous shot," Miracle said.

A good problem: Tocchet said Mike Smith is the team's No. 1 goalie but Antero Niittymaki has moved from backup to No. 1B. That kind of quality depth is a good problem for any coach, but it does have its downside.

When should Tocchet go back to Smith?

"A guy like Niittymaki, when he was in Philly, he'd win three, four in a row and have a bad game, and he wouldn't play. I don't know if I'm a big fan of that," Tocchet said. "I'm not necessarily agreeing that if a guy has a tough night you don't come back with him. Now the other guy might be saying, 'Well, why can't I play?' You've really got to have two goalies who are on the same page."

A room with a view: Tocchet has had assistant coaches Wes Walz and Adam Oates alternate positions from game to game, with one behind the bench and the other in the press box.

"When you're behind the bench, it's not always the easiest thing to see exactly everything that's going on on the ice," Walz said.

"You can see something that maybe with the speed of the game, the other guys miss," Oates said.

The assistant in the press box shares those things with the staff and players between periods, and that can allow the Lightning to adjust more quickly.

"Since they've rotated, the last two months, their insight has been unbelievable," Tocchet said. "They've really helped me a lot. … It's been a nice thing we've developed here."

Whatever happened to … : Former backup G Karri Ramo, who appeared in 48 games in his three seasons in Tampa Bay (2006-07 through 2008-09) with an 11-21-10 record, was selected by the fans to play in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League all-star game today at the Minsk Arena. Ramo, playing for Avangard Omsk, will be on the team led by former NHL MVP Jaromir Jagr.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Kurtis Foster takes "bill" for broken glass in stride 01/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 11:55pm]

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