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Randy Sexton: David Booth Alert, Moving ... Will Remain in Philadelphia Tonight

BY GEORGE RICHARDS grichards@MiamiHerald.com

PHILADELPHIA – Florida Panthers winger David Booth is alert and moving after being taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hard hit to the head from Philadelphia Flyers captain Mike Richards on Saturday night.

Booth, 25, remained motionless on the ice after the dangerous hit administered by the Flyers star. Booth was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital in south Philadelphia where he was expected to remain at least until Sunday.

Team athletic trainer Steve Dischiavi rode to the hospital with Booth and will remain with him until he can return to South Florida. The Panthers boarded a jet soon after Saturday's game.

''They are doing a whole host of tests just to make sure everything is OK,'' said general manager Randy Sexton. ''I don't know [if Booth had a concussion]. It's too early to tell. The injury just happened. We'll have a much clearer picture in the morning. He was moving his extremities and was awake when he left the ice.''

Richards aggressive hit could bring a fine and suspension before the Flyers play host to San Jose on Sunday. Richards hit Booth on open ice as Booth was vulnerable after playing he played the puck in the Philadelphia zone. Booth did not appear to see Richards coming at him. Richards led into Booth with his shoulder and sent the Florida winger flat to the ice.

Booth immediately hit the ice where he remained motionless for a few moments. Dr. Gary Dorshimer, who works with the Flyers, was escorted onto the ice by a Philadelphia player as Dischiavi and Dave Zenobi attended to Booth. Paramedics later rolled out a stretcher onto the ice. After a few minutes, Booth was rolled over and there seemed to be a little movement.

When Booth was moved, a puddle of blood could be seen collecting under where his face had been resting. It appeared that he was knocked cold when he hit in the chin.

''Obviously, I was not trying to hurt him but separate him from the puck,” Richards said. “He turned, everything happened so quickly, it’s hard for me, I really didn’t see it. .-.-. I didn’t mean to hurt him. I don’t have a history of head shots. I don’t even know if it’s a head shot.''

Booth, coincidentally, scored his second goal of the season in the first period.

''It was a loss out of our lineup,'' said coach Pete DeBoer. ''You worried about his welfare; it's a scary sight. He was totally unconscious on the ice. You're not thinking about hockey. You just hope he's alright.''

Sexton had said that the Richards hit was dirty and a number of his players – including Bryan Allen and Keith Ballard – agreed. Sexton's quotes were relayed to Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren and he defended his player.

''Randy Sexton needs to watch more hockey games,'' Holmgren said. ''It's a good hit. Mike Richards was just doing his job.''

Responded Sexton: ''I'm not going to get into a war of words with Paul. He has his own opinions.''

A quick skirmish broke out after the Richards hit, but attentions quickly turned to the fallen Booth. The Panthers then went on a long power play and didn't physically respond to the Richards hit during the game. The Flyers, who led 3-1 at the time of the Booth hit, rolled from then on.

Florida didn't score on its two minute chance with two extra skaters on the ice and did little the rest of the way as the Flyers celebrated the win.

''The guy had his head down, in vulnerable position and Richards knows it,'' said Ballard. ''He went after him. He's done it before. It's the same thing [the NHL] is trying to put an end to. He tried to hurt him. [Booth] was looking the other way. .-.-. We had a five minute power play. We didn't score, didn't hit anyone. We didn't do anything. We needed to pick something.''

The Panthers also lost veteran winger Radek Dvorak to an apparent left knee injury after he got crushed by Darroll Powe just 36 seconds into the second period.

Dvorak was in obvious pain as he was helped off the ice, with DeBoer saying after the game ''it didn't look good.'' Sexton said Dvorak would return with the team and be evaluated by team medical personnel in South Florida.



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