Canucks’ oft-injured David Booth back on the ice, shooting for NHL season-opener
'He killed us in Florida. The biggest thing for me is can he stay healthy because I've seen him play,' says coach John Tortorella
A broken ankle, suffered last March, was David Booth's third serious injury since he joined the Canucks in a trade from Florida on Oct. 22, 2011. Booth also suffered through major knee and groin problems. Last season, he appeared in just 12 of 52 games (including playoffs).
Photograph by: Nick Procaylo, PNG
VANCOUVER — After busting up his left ankle last March, Vancouver Canucks winger David Booth has just one thing in mind this fall: be ready when he and his mates open the NHL's regular season Oct. 3 in San Jose.
“I guess that's the biggest goal for me,” Booth said Wednesday after participating in his first practice of training camp, six days behind the rest of the group. “I'm starting now and that gives me plenty of time to get myself where I need to be for Oct. 3. It was quite the feeling being back out there today, moving the puck and being on the team again. I've been waiting for that for a long time. It's been a while.”
Booth went down March 16 in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings. He collided with Wings blueliner Brendan Smith deep in the Detroit zone and couldn't get up. He broke the ankle, tore ligaments and required surgery.
It was his third serious injury since he joined the Canucks in a trade from Florida on Oct. 22, 2011. He's also suffered through major knee and groin problems. Last season, he appeared in just 12 of 52 games (including playoffs).
Canucks coach John Tortorella saw plenty of Booth when he was in Tampa and Booth was still with the Panthers. He liked what he saw.
“He killed us in Florida,” said Tortorella. “The biggest thing for me is can he stay healthy because I've seen him play. I watched him in Florida and I've watched him since then. He can be an asset on how we want to play. I mean, he could be a really good player.
“The question is health and that's out of my control. I know the trainers and everyone are really working with him to try to help him stay healthy. If we can get a good player like that healthy and staying in the lineup, it's going to help us.”
By his own admission, Booth hasn't provided much of an impact since joining the Canucks. He felt he was playing his best hockey when felled by a knee-on-knee hit Dec. 6, 2011 by then-Colorado Avalanche forward Kevin Porter. It's been mostly frustration and non-production ever since.
Booth, 28, is a three-time 20-goal scorer and has hit the 30-goal mark once. He has two years remaining on his contract at $4.25 million per season. He said the last nine months have been especially difficult.
“It's probably been the toughest time in my career,” conceded Booth, who also suffered a severe concussion during the 2009-10 campaign (Mike Richards hit) when playing for the Panthers.
“I just want to get back to being the player that I know I can be. No one puts as much pressure on me than I do. I just want to help this team be the best it can be and that's my goal. If I am given the opportunity, I think I can really be a force in this league. I'm looking forward to the year and really showing my teammates, myself and the city what I can do.”
During Wednesday's practice, Booth skated alongside Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows on what could very likely be the team's opening-night second line — given everyone remains upright. Booth was enthused at that prospect.
“I was very excited when I was on their line today,” said the Detroit native. “The potential is huge. That's something I know I'm going to have to work hard for, to keep that. Those players are so dynamic and to be able to play with them, and hopefully get that opportunity, I was really excited.”
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