Panthers notebook

Tough times in Vancouver for former Florida Panther David Booth

 
 
Florida Panthers wing David Booth breaks towards the Montreal Canadiens goal during the third period of their game on March 3, 2011. The Canadiens won, 4-0.
Florida Panthers wing David Booth breaks towards the Montreal Canadiens goal during the third period of their game on March 3, 2011. The Canadiens won, 4-0.
Arkasha Stevenson / The Miami Herald

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

David Booth didn't want to leave the Panthers, didn't ask to be traded as some others have.

When word came down from Dale Tallon on Oct. 22, 2011, that Booth was headed to Vancouver, Booth tearfully scrawled a message to his teammates on the white board and reluctantly trudged out of the arena.

The Panthers would play the Islanders later that night without No. 10 in the lineup.

“It was tough to say goodbye,’’ Booth said then.

One of the more popular players in Florida during his six-plus seasons with the Panthers, Booth has struggled lately. Booth scored 16 goals in his 56 games in the season following the trade but only two in 25 games since.

Now in his third year with the Canucks, Booth has been plagued by various injuries (knee, ankle, groin). Booth has scored one goal in 13 games this season and spent time in the minors.

That's a far cry from Booth's time in Florida when he scored 31 goals in 2008-09 and a total of 87 in 309 games with the Panthers.

“He's gone through a number of injuries,’’ Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. “You have to fight through it mentally and let yourself go. I don't think he's done that. He's a really good player. It's still there. We have to help him find it to help us be a better team.’’

When the Panthers visited Booth's Canucks late Tuesday night, Booth wasn’t on the ice after being deemed a healthy scratch by Tortorella.

“I obviously would have liked to play, this is a game that was circled,'' said Booth, who was hurt when Vancouver visited Sunrise in 2012.

On Tuesday morning, Booth was basically asked if he was worth his high price tag. The Panthers gave Booth a six-year deal worth $25.5 million — with the Canucks paying the brunt of it. Booth will make $4.5 million this season and $4.75 million next season.

Vancouver sent Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm to Florida in exchange for Booth, Steven Reinprecht and a third-round draft pick.

“No one holds me to a higher expectation than myself,’’ he said, barely looking up. “You know, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’ That's an old Biblical principle that has always stuck with me. I know I’ve been given much and much is expected from me. I'm going to work as hard as I can.’’

The Canucks are a team loaded with former Panthers. While Roberto Luongo still lives in South Florida and would have liked to return to the Panthers, Jason Garrison grew up in the Vancouver area and cashed in during free agency by leaving the Panthers for the Canucks.

Although saying he is happy in Vancouver, Booth admits he misses the low-pressure lifestyle that playing hockey in South Florida afforded him. Booth was happy to see the Panthers make it to the playoffs after he left.

If the opportunity came around for Booth to return to the Panthers, the thought is he would take it.

“Trust me, I look back with nothing but positives about Florida,’’' Booth said. “There are things I miss, especially the ability to just go out and play. Here, it's hockey and that's all it is. In Florida you play and that suited my style. Maybe it doesn't for others. [But] there are things I love about here, there's no place I'd rather be.’’

Winner, winner

Panthers coach Peter Horachek opened Tuesday's morning skate by reminding his team that the Panthers had never won a game in this building.

“I have,’’' goalie Tim Thomas responded, drawing laughs from Horachek and his teammates.

Thomas, obviously, knows how it feels to win at Rogers Arena as he beat the Canucks in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals here. Before Monday's workout, Thomas hadn't been back.

Florida came into Tuesday's game with no wins in 11 games (five ties) at Vancouver's GM Place/Rogers Arena. The Panthers’ lone Vancouver win came in their first visit during their expansion year of 1993-94 and came at the Canucks' former home, the Pacific Coliseum.

•  Roger Neilson was coach of the Panthers during that time as he was Florida's first bench boss, coaching the team for its first two seasons before being fired and replaced by Doug MacLean.

On Tuesday, the Panthers announced they would name the press box at BB&T Center in Neilson's honor. The unveiling of the Roger Neilson Memorial Press Box will take place Monday.

Neilson died after a battle with cancer on June 21, 2003.

“Roger brought me in and probably had the most impact on me as a coach,’’ said television analyst Billy Lindsay, who played for Neilson during those first two seasons in Florida.

“He was someone I truly loved. He was a great coach and a great man. I think it’s awesome that the team is honoring him this way. This is a great way to always remember him. I think he would have appreciated it.’’

•  Mike Weaver was declared out of Tuesday's game after missing the morning skate because of his illness. Weaver also missed Saturday's game at Colorado. Scott Gomez (groin) and Sean Bergenheim also were out of the lineup.

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

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