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Looking To Reach New Heights

Monday, 08.20.2007 / 9:56 AM ET / News
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Looking To Reach New Heights
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com

David Booth spent part of his summer climbing mountains in Austria and instructing children at hockey camps in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

But less than a month before the start of training camp, Booth, arguably the Panthers’ most pleasant surprise last season, is back in Michigan working to improve his game, particularly his shot, and be in the lineup come opening night.

David Booth
“Once you get a taste of playing in the NHL,” Booth, 22, said, “it only makes you want to get back that much more.”

Drafted by the Panthers in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2004 Entry Draft, Booth started the 2006-07 season in Rochester, N.Y., with the Panthers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. But just months removed from playing his senior season at Michigan State, Booth suddenly found himself Nov. 20 taking his first shifts in the NHL as a member of the Panthers.

“I remember that first game being so nervous,” Booth said. “I mean, you dream of playing in the NHL as a kid. I just remember how great and proud I felt playing that night.”

Booth’s first taste of the NHL was only for four games. But he caught the eye of GM and coach Jacques Martin. After being recalled for another three games between Dec. 12-16, Booth left Rochester on Dec. 27 and spent the rest of the season with the Panthers.

“His speed was a big thing, and I liked his intensity,” Martin said.

Booth’s unexpected ascent did not surprise his former coach at Michigan State, Rick Comley, whose Spartans won the 2007 national championship.

According to Comley, Booth might have been the best player in the country during his senior season at Michigan State.

“Before he had a calf injury (late in the season), I thought he might have been the best player on any team in the country,” Comley said. “He was so physical, so dominant. I think he would have won the national championship that year if David was healthy.”

Because Booth, who had 13 goals (33 points) during his senior season at Michigan State, improved so much during his four years in college, Comley strongly believed Booth would make the jump to the NHL.

“I have to say I honestly believed he would make it to the NHL and fill a role,” Comley said. “He had more skill than people realized. Everyone wants a player like that on their team. And no one, over a four year period, improved like he did.”

Booth called his first season in the NHL “a lot of fun.” But the 6-foot, 212 pound forward also realized after last season he had “a lot of things to work on.”

After scoring 10 points (three goals) in 48 games with the Panthers last season, Booth crossed the Atlantic to help coach hockey camps in Slovakia and the Czech Republic with Hockey Ministries International, a group which hosts more than 2,000 children at Christian hockey camps. After a trip to Innsbrook, Austria, Booth returned home to Michigan to prepare for the upcoming season.

Part of Booth’s preparation has been working out at Michigan State with several NHL players including Sabres goalie Ryan Miller and Canadiens’ forward Bryan Smolinski.

But Booth paid careful attention to what Martin told him at the end of the season.

“Jacques recommended I work on my shot,” Booth said.

So to fulfill Martin’s wishes, Booth has spent time working with his old coach Johnny Bowkus of the Turcotte Hockey School.

“I’ve been doing a lot of skating but (Bowkus) grew up coaching me and it’s been a great help working with him,” he said. “The previous year I spent a lot of time in the weight room, but a player also needs to be skilled.

“I’ve been working on the accuracy of my shot and shooting from weird positions. I started shooting from these different positions the first time and I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’ But when you think about it, you don’t have time in a game to pick up one foot and pick a corner.”

Booth, who also had seven goals (14 points) in Rochester in 25 games, is one of several players who will try to start the season with the Panthers out of training camp.

“I’m anxious to see David in training camp,” Martin said. “He works hard, he’s committed. He didn’t start the season with us last year but once he got the opportunity he handled himself well.”

And despite the fact the Panthers improved their depth with the addition of free agent forwards Radek Dvorak, Richard Zednik and Brett McLean, Booth is eager to prove himself worthy of starting the season Oct. 4 with the Panthers in New York.

“I know they got three really good players,” Booth said. “But there’s nothing that’s going to change that. I’m looking forward to camp. I think I was a little nervous last year at camp. I didn’t really know anyone. But I know the guys now, I think I’ll be more relaxed, and I think that’s going to help me a lot.”

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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