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FOSTER'S BITTERSWEET PARTING

Defenseman wanted to stay but leaves for a better deal, with thanks.

Kurtis Foster said he wants a Lightning jersey as a keepsake. That is how much the defenseman believes his one season in Tampa helped his career.

He said he wanted to stay with the team, but the contract offered and the playing time general manager Steve Yzerman outlined did not measure up to what he received from the Oilers, who gave the free agent a two-year, $3.6 million deal Thursday.

"I was willing to give a discount, but at the end of the day, you need to do what's best for you as a person and a hockey player," Foster said Friday. "And it wasn't even the money as much as the situation (the Lightning) had me penciled in for. It really didn't fit with my liking. Going to Edmonton, the situation they put forth was better to grow as a player."

Foster said the Oilers offered top-four-defensemen minutes, a chance to play on the power play and about $1 million more in total salary.

Still, Foster, 29, said he will look back fondly on his time in Tampa. It gave him a chance, with a one-year, $600,000 deal, to rejuvenate his career. He had played just 10 games in 2008-09 because of a broken leg the previous season.

Foster's 42 points in 71 games last season were a career high, and he was a mainstay on the power play.

"We should get a jersey from last year always to have and to keep," Foster said. "(Then-GM) Brian Lawton took a flier on me. I was able to show the league and other teams I could play."

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