David Booth has a short wish list when it comes to his hockey career.
Booth, fresh off a 31-goal season and a new six-year contract with the Panthers, wants to win a Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal. His quest for the holy grails of hockey begins Monday when he arrives in Woodridge, Ill., to the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Orientation Camp.
Booth’s goal? To make the U.S. Olympic roster for the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
“Ever since I was invited (in June) I’ve been really pumped about it,” said Booth earlier in the week. “I’m really excited about the opportunity. My big goals in hockey have always been to win the Stanley Cup and a gold medal.”
Booth will join 33 other U.S. players in hopes of making the U.S. team. The roster for the two-day Orientation Camp includes 19 forwards, 12 defenseman and three goaltenders. Just five of the invited players have previous Olympic experience. Those five are Mike Modano, Chris Drury, Brian Rafalski, Scott Gomez and Jamie Langenbrunner.
General Manager Brian Burke said of the U.S. roster: “We’re going to be an underdog in Vancouver. There won’t be a penny bet on us in Las Vegas. We’ll probably be the youngest team in the tournament, we know that.”
The 34 players will be split into two groups for Orientation Camp at Seven Bridges Arena. Booth’s group will include forwards Dustin Brown, Bobby Ryan, Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler, defensemen Tim Gleason, Rafalski, Rob Scuderi and Ryan Suter, and goalie Ryan Miller.
Booth said after the 2008-09 season had ended – a season in which he led the Panthers in goals (31) and power-play goals (11) and tied Nathan Horton with five game-winning goals – he went back to work in May.
“I started working out the middle of May, probably around the 10th, and I’ve been going hard ever since,” said the 24-year-old Michigan native. “Whether I was traveling or back home, I was mixing up my workouts so I’d not only be ready for (Orientation Camp) but the beginning of training camp (Sept. 12). I’ve been lifting three times a week and doing agility work three times a week. I’ve just been trying to do something different every day.”
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.
During Orientation Camp, the two groups will practice Monday and Tuesday between 10:15 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. Booth said it will be a chance for players to get familiar with one another and for Burke, head coach Ron Wilson and assistant coaches Scott Gordon and John Tortorella to see the players.
“I think for a lot of guys it will be a chance to get some chemistry and be around each other,” he said. “I think (the coaches) will be watching to see what kind of shape we’ve come to camp in.”
Booth said he’s already familiar with some of the players.
“I’ve actually played with a lot of guys before,” Booth said. “Brown, (Zach) Parise, Gleason, Kane. I probably know half the guys, and I’ve been working out the past week with Ryan Miller (in Michigan).”
Upon completion to Orientation Camp, Booth will make plans to head back to South Florida for the start of Panthers training camp and their historic season-opener in Helsinki, Finland.
“Hopefully, I can use this as a springboard for the start of training camp with the Panthers,” he said.