Panthers forward David Booth summed up his past two days skating at the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Orientation Camp in one word.
Booth, one of 34 players invited this week to Woodridge, Ill., hoping to eventually make the U.S., team come the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, said Orientation Camp is busy but a lot of fun.
“It’s been so cool to be part of this,” Booth said Tuesday evening as he prepared to join the rest of the squad at U.S. Cellular Field to watch the Chicago White Sox play host the Kansas City Royals. “To be part of the U.S., Orientation Camp, to be around guys who are the best in the world and guys you respect, is a great honor.”
For Booth, his trip to Orientation Camp is another stop on an impressive international resume. He won gold medals with Team USA at the 2004 World Junior Championships and in 2002 at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He also represented Team USA at the 2008 IIHF World Championship.
And how did Booth do during this camp?
“I struggled a little the first day,” he said. “It was the first up-tempo skate after the summer. Today I felt better.”
The players were split into two groups with Booth’s group including forwards Dustin Brown, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler, defensemen Tim Gleason, Brian Rafalski, Rob Scuderi and Ryan Suter, and goalie Ryan Miller.
Booth’s linemates Tuesday were Kesler and Ryan.
When Booth wasn’t on the ice, he was ushered through media, fittings and team building exercises. Booth said Monday started with a 7:30 a.m., meeting and the day didn’t end until 11 p.m. GM Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson brought in three decorated veterans to talk about the importance of being a team.
“I want to build a team and some camaraderie,” Wilson said. “You can never become a team unless you can trust the guys to the left, right, front and center. That’s what we’re trying to establish here.”
Camp breaks Wednesday and the real tryouts will begin during the regular season through December. When asked how he thought he did, Booth said; “I feel I did good. This was orientation. There are so many good players here, every one of them could be on the team.”
Booth leaves Orientation Camp only to be at Panthers training camp in another three weeks. He’ll be trying to eclipse last year’s team-leading 31 goals (11 on the power play).
On a side note, Mike Modano and Dustin Byfuglien were chosen to be on the field Tuesday evening to throw out the first pitches before the White Sox game.