A little more than a year removed from Michigan State and David Booth has become a Panther fan favorite with his speed and work ethic.
The 23-year-old, who made his NHL debut just 13 months ago, entered the weekend with five goals in his last eight games. His quickness and determination to drive to the front of the net is earning Booth playing time alongside Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss
as well as time on the power play. Despite being taken off the ice Oct. 20 in a stretcher in Ottawa after a hit along the boards, Booth continues playing with the same enthusiasm.
Booth took time to answer fans questions late last week e-mailed right here at FloridaPanthers.com.
The first question comes from The Montaninis: How has playing on a line with Horton and Weiss helped you become a more offensive threat?
BOOTH: “Those guys are two of the best players I’ve ever played with. They see the ice well and they’re also very good defensively, so lets me kind of get in the forecheck and use my speed and not be afraid to make mistakes.”Question from Demetra: I was happy you came back from your injury (Oct. 20 in Ottawa). How did the accident change you? Did it make you a better player?
BOOTH: “I think it changed me for sure. You look at what could have happened. There’s a guy at Boston University (Travis Roy) who played his first shift in college and was paralyzed. That was his anniversary, the same night I got hit. You think, ‘Man, that could have been me.’ You appreciate what you have, what God’s given you. I just want to make the most of what I have right now and not let a day go by where I look back and say, ‘I could have done something different.’ So I’m really thankful.”Question from Chris Smith: What’s it like playing in the NHL at 23? I’m sure it must require an extreme amount of focus and dedication?
Booth: “When I was 15 I had to move away from home, as a lot of hockey players do, so I didn’t have a lot of a social life in high school. You couldn’t do any high school sports or anything or make any buddies in high school. The only friends I had was the hockey players. That was tough. Then you go to college and really focus on hockey and you’re not going out every night like a lot of college people are. It was really tough. But know it pays off, your dedication and focus. Right now you look back and say, ‘I’m glad I did it the way I did it because it’s paying off right now.”Question from Matt Booth (David’s brother): Growing up in Detroit, I was wondering if you modeled your game after any of those great Wings teams growing up with the likes of Brent Fedyk, Bernie Federko, Rick Zombo and Yves Racine?
Booth (laughing): “I think all those players (laughing), very popular forwards, those guys set the pathway for where I wanted to be. Those guys were my role models – Rick Zombo. Just to play in the same arena those guys played in…We’d have season tickets and watch these guys put on a show. One might think of Steve Yzerman growing up with the Wings, but I think this guy nailed it.”
Question from Chris McKernan from England: How did you get into ice hockey?
Booth: “My dad just put me in. It was something I loved doing. I started skating at five. Enjoyed it and kept going with it. I played on Team Honeybaked growing up where we played against the best teams in Canada, guys like Rick Nash. One of my very best friends was the starter of Honeybaked and we’ve stayed very good friends. Lou Schmidt, the owner up in Michigan, put together a great team that made us compete against the best teams in Toronto and throughout the United States. We won national championships. I think playing on that team and the dedication Lou Schmidt had to get the best team he could put together helped me develop into the player I’ve become. I played on that team from 11 to 15, maybe 10 to 15.”Question from Darcy in Nashville, MI: What do you miss most about playing hockey at Michigan State?
Booth: “The schedule is one thing. You play Friday and Saturday. That’s great. You get rest and recovery. It’s a grind every day but it’s fun. Here it’s fun, too. You don’t have any worries when you’re in college. You’re young and just having a good time and you know you’re on the team. Here, you have to play your best every day. It is a job here, but it’s obviously the best.”Question from Zecco: What kind of music do you listen to before games and what part of your game do you need to improve?
Booth: “I’m a country music kind of guy, but I might throw in a couple techno songs before the game. What I need improvement on? We could be here all day. I think just to be consistent. Play the best I can every game. I think the hardest thing is to keep building every night, not taking a night off, finishing every hit and getting to the net and not turning the puck over.”
Question from Dave from Sunrise: Do you feel this Panther team is playoff caliber?
Booth: “Oh, I definitely believe it. I think we showed the past few games we can win and beat good teams. We just have to bring that every night. If we do that, we’ll be in the playoffs.”
Question from Stephane from Montreal: The team has invested in long term deals with a lot of its young players. Are you ready to make that commitment to this organization?
Booth: “I think it’s great. That would be awesome. It’s definitely a goal of mine to be here a long time.”
Question from Michael Todd: Twinkies or cupcakes?
Booth (laughing): “It depends on which ones are organic. Our training coach won’t let us eat those. Actually, I just made a bet with a friend of mine. She don’t think I can go a whole year without dessert and I bet her I could. It started on my birthday (Nov. 24) so I have a whole year. The win is something I always wanted – a guided elk hunt. I think it’s pretty hard because I have the biggest sweet tooth. So for a year, I won’t have twinkies or cupcakes.”Question from Uncle Tom and Aunt Maryann: Aunt Maryann wants to know when you’re going to get a haircut?
Booth (laughing): “There’s a character in the bible called Samson who had all the strength in the world because he always let his hair grow. He was not allowed to tell anybody his secret. He got very close to a woman, told him the secret, and this woman betrayed him and cut his hair, and he lost all his strength. So I’m just going to keep on going until…I don’t know. Let it grow until the time comes.”