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Notes: Booth to play final two games of season with Wings

Many Detroit players have rooting interest in tonight's Frozen Four

by Dana Wakiji and Art Regner @Dwakiji and @ArthurJRegner / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- Although he hasn't played as much as he would have liked, David Booth has thoroughly enjoyed his season with the Detroit Red Wings.

Since the Wings sent Evgeny Svechnikov back to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, along with defenseman Joe Hicketts and goaltender Thomas McCollum, it meant Booth will play the final two games.

"It is really exciting to finish off the season, playing in the last couple of games is pretty cool, especially (since) at the start of the year, the odds were against me being here this long," Booth said. "It's been a tough season for the team. We obviously did not reach our goal of getting into the playoffs. Once you get into the playoffs anything can happen.

"For me personally, it's been a fun year, even though you're not in the lineup - I don't fun is the right (word), but rewarding year, something I've enjoyed the most out of my professional career, just being around these guys. they've been really encouraging, whether it's because they didn't expect me to be here, kind of the underdog. They've been really great to me and fun to be around. It's like a family. Probably the best group of guys I've been around. That's what makes it fun for me."

What has also made it fun for Booth is getting a chance to play for the team he cheered for growing up as a Detroit native.

"The Red Wings were so good when I was growing up and I think that plays into the whole Detroit culture here," Booth said. "I remember when I was high school or grade school, every single car had a Detroit Red Wings flag on it. It was just something we were engulfed in. This was Hockeytown. That's where the whole phrase started, I think. They just had a way of developing the hockey culture through America and so then to come here and now to finish it here is really cool."

During Thursday's morning skate, Booth was on a line with Frans Nielsen and Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader is a little younger than Booth but spent one year with him at Michigan State.

"Obviously, I knew him in college a little bit," Abdelkader said. "He works real hard. He's a guy that commits himself off the ice. Whenever he's gotten an opportunity to play, he's played well. He keeps himself in good shape, keeps himself ready."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Booth has had a very positive influence on his teammates this season.

"Love Booth. David Booth has been a great person to have around, especially for some of the young players here," Blashill said. "He brings a couple of things. He brings unreal day-to-day work ethic. Unreal. The hardest-working guy in the gym that maybe I've ever seen. And then also brings unreal perspective. He's been in this league, he's been a 30-goal scorer. He's been out of this league and probably feels real lucky to be back in the league, and understands from perspective how special every day in the NHL is and is able to pass that on to our other players. So he's been a great, great person to have in the locker room."

That perspective comes from spending the previous two seasons in Russia in the KHL.

"I think when you play so long you kind of think this lifestyle is normal, when in reality it's not," Booth said. "We don't know that because we're engulfed in it. I think everyone around us is meant to serve us. If we have everyone taking care of us - going over to Russia for two years just opened my eyes. That's why I always say, 'Hey, I've enjoyed this year.' Just because we have so much more to be thankful for. I think life is so much more than winning and losing. That doesn't take away from us trying to win or trying to compete, because that's engulfed in our human nature is to compete and want to win, but when you lay your head down at night you realize I'm in America, we have such a good life. We have so many blessings that I think we take for granted every day.

"So just being here for the whole season and being around these guys and enjoying it has been awesome and it's most likely going to be my last two games. I understand the dynamic of the NHL now and I understand my situation, so it's going to be exciting to have my family here and be able to finish as a Detroit Red Wing is really cool."

GLENDENING OUT: Luke Glendening will end this season the same way he ended last season -- on the sidelines with an injury.

Glendening left Tuesday night's game in Columbus with an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return.

On Thursday, Blashill said Glendening would miss the final two games of the season because of the injury, which Blashill characterized as not serious and not expected to linger.

Last year, Glendening fractured his left ankle in Carolina on March 27, 2017, and missed the final seven games of the season.

FROZEN FOUR MANIA: If there is one thing you can count on with the Michigan-born, university-educated Wings, they are gigantic fans of college athletics.

That is true especially when their school or a home state team is involved in a championship contest.

When Michigan and Notre Dame tangle later tonight in St. Paul, Minn., in college hockey's Frozen Four, the two semi-finalists will have several of the Wings paying attention.

"I'm really excited, not just because it is Michigan, but because this would have been my senior season," Dylan Larkin said. "So, there are still a few of my teammates playing for the championship. They've really grown this year, and I can't wait to see how they do."

Larkin won Big Ten freshman of the year honors in the 2014-15 season as a Wolverine.

The Waterford native had 15 goals, 32 assists for 47 points in 35 games. He was plus-18 and accumulated 38 penalty minutes.

After his freshman year, Larkin turned pro, but has always maintained a close relationship with Michigan's hockey program.

He's happy the face-off for the Michigan-Notre Dame clash is slated for 9:30 p.m., allowing him to see most of the game after the Wings-Canadiens game is over.

Abdelkader, a Michigan State alumnus, played in the Frozen Four in 2007 and scored the game-winner for the Spartans against Boston College.

Besides winning the national title, Abdelkader was named the most outstanding player in the Frozen Four.

He does admit rooting for the Wolverines isn't exactly easy.

"I hope the best team wins," Abdelkader said, "It is really, really hard to cheer for Michigan, but if they are the best team for these last couple games, I'll be happy for them if they win it."

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