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BOOTH OUT AGAINST PANTHERS: Goals, Playing Time Harder to Find in Vancouver

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

VANCOUVER -- David Booth didn't want to leave the Panthers, didn't ask to be traded as some others have.

When word came down from Dale Tallon on Oct. 22, 2011 that Booth was headed to Vancouver, Booth tearfully scrawled wrote a message to his teammates on the white board and reluctantly trudged out of the arena.

The Panthers would play the Islanders later that night without No. 10 in the lineup.

"It was tough to say goodbye,'' Booth said then.

One of the more popular players in Florida during his six-plus seasons with the Panthers, Booth has struggled lately. Booth scored 16 goals in his 56 games in the season following the trade but only two in 25 games since.

Now in his third year with the Canucks, Booth has been plagued by various injuries (knee, ankle, groin). Booth has scored one goal in 13 games this season and spent time in the minors.

That's a far cry from Booth's time in Florida when he scored 31 goals in 2008-09 and a total of 87 in 309 games with the Panthers.

"He's gone through a number of injuries,'' Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. "You have to fight through it mentally and let yourself go. I don't think he's done that. He's a really good player. It's still there. We have to help him find it to help us be a better team.''

When the Panthers visit Booth's Canucks late Tuesday night, Booth won't be on the ice after being deemed a healthy scratch by Tortorella.

"I obviously would have liked to play, this is a game that was circled,'' said Booth, who was hurt when Vancouver visited Sunrise in 2012.

On Tuesday morning, Booth was basically if he was worth his high price tag. The Panthers gave Booth a six-year deal worth $25.5 million -- with the Canucks paying the brunt of it. Booth will make $4.5 million this season and $4.75 next season.

Vancouver sent Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm to Florida in exchange for Booth, Steven Reinprecht and a third-round draft pick.

"No one me to a higher expectation than myself,'' he said, barely looking up. "You know, 'to whom much is given, much is required.' That's an old Biblical principal that has always stuck with me. I know I've been given much and much is expected from me. I'm going to work as hard as I can.''

The Canucks are a team loaded with former Panthers. While Roberto Luongo still lives in South Florida and would have liked to return to the Panthers, Jason Garrison grew up in the Vancouver area and cashed in during free agency by leaving the Panthers for the Canucks.

Booth, while saying he is happy in Vancouver, admits he misses the low-pressure lifestyle playing hockey in South Florida afforded him. Booth was happy to see the Panthers make it to the playoffs after he left, saying their long-suffering fans deserved to enjoy that.

If the opportunity came around for Booth to return to the Panthers, the thought is he would take it.

"Trust me, I look back with nothing but positives about Florida,'' Booth said. "There are things I miss, especially the ability to just go out and play. Here, it's hockey and that's all it is. In Florida you play and that suited my style. Maybe it doesn't for others. There are things I love about here, there's no place I'd rather be. But things work out. It's fine here. I enjoy it. But it's part of the job.''

 

 

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