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Florida's David Booth taken off on stretcher after hit

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- Florida Panthers forward David Booth spent Saturday night at a local hospital after being removed from the ice on a stretcher following a scary open-ice hit from Philadelphia Flyers center Mike Richards.
With 2:55 left in the second period, Booth was carrying the puck into the Flyers' end when Richards leveled him with a shoulder to the head. Booth appeared to see Richards racing in from his right at the last second, but it was too late to avoid the blow. Booth flipped over backwards, landing awkwardly on his head and neck. He suffered a gash above his eye and appeared to lose consciousness either on the hit or immediately after hitting the ice.
Medics rushed onto the ice and Booth's neck was immobilized. He was strapped to a backboard and taken off on a stretcher. The game was delayed for about 10 minutes while doctors tended to Booth.
"I had a quick chat with the doctor, and they're doing a whole host of tests just to be sure that everything is OK," Panthers General Manager Randy Sexton said. "It's too early to tell exactly the extent of the injury until they finish all their tests."
Sexton said Booth regained consciousness as he was being taken off the ice, and has feeling and in his arms and legs.
"He was moving his extremities, he was awake when he left the ice," Sexton said. "It appears that he may have been knocked out on the ice, but he was awake when he was being removed. They did some very quick motor tests and everything seemed fine from that perspective. I don't know if it was in the ambulance or at the hospital."
Richards was assessed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. After the game, he said his thoughts were with Booth and his well-being.
"My concern is with him," said Richards. "(I hope) he's fine and gets better and hopefully nothing's wrong with him.
"I was just trying to backcheck through the middle like we're supposed to do and put pressure from behind. I saw him cutting with the puck through the middle. He dished it off; I just tried to separate him from the puck, tried to go shoulder on shoulder. It happened too quickly."
After viewing the hit, Sexton called the play dirty.
"I thought it was a late hit and a dirty hit," Sexton said. "He tracks him from behind. You could see it clear, right to his face and head. And follow-through."
Sexton expected further discipline for Richards from the League.
"I do believe the League will act appropriately," Sexton said. "There's been a lot of discussion about taking out those type of hits, especially to the head. I have full confidence that after the League has a chance to review it they'll take appropriate action."
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren disagreed.
"I don't expect anything," Holmgren said of supplementary discipline. "It was a good hit. Mike's doing his job, he's backtracking. He went to finish his check on a player. His feet never left the ice. I feel bad for Booth, hopefully he's going to be all right. But there was nothing dirty about that hit."

Booth scored the Panthers' only goal, his second of the season, in the first period when he deflected a Dennis Seidenberg shot between Ray Emery's pads.
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