I was in Seattle this weekend to watch some baseball games. The Mariners were hosting the best team in the majors, the Oakland Moneyballin’ Athletics, who went into the All-Star break with a 59-36 record, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the league.
While I didn’t get to see Scott Kazmir pitch for the A’s, baseball fans know his comeback story well by now. A couple of years ago, this guy was throwing for the Sugar Land Skeeters. Today, he’s a Cy Young candidate.
I don’t know if there’s a future Kazmir in the NHL right now. The Anaheim Ducks are hoping so with Dany Heatley.
But another, perhaps stronger, candidate is David Booth, the 29-year-old winger who was bought out by the Canucks after failing to produce in Vancouver at the same level he did in Florida, where he scored 87 goals in 309 games with the Panthers.
Booth’s stint with the Canucks was marred by injuries, bad luck, and, on occasion, simply poor play. He was an occasional healthy scratch and spent time this past season in the AHL on a conditioning assignment. Oh, and John Tortorella called him a “weird dude.”
When Booth’s Vancouver career came to an end, the Michigan native had scored just 26 goals in 134 games. He’ll be best remembered by Canucks fans for his hunting pictures.
In fairness to Booth, though, he suffered a serious ankle injury in March of 2013 — one the doctor told him would take a year to fully heal — and didn’t get near as much time on the power play with the Canucks as he did with the Panthers.
“I was playing 22 to 23 minutes and on 5-on-3s in Florida, and I haven’t had that opportunity this year,” said Booth. “You can’t expect 30 goals on the third line and not getting out on the power play.”
Despite the challenges he faced, Booth still managed to be a positive possession player with Vancouver. And before getting bought out, he finished 2013-14 with four goals in his last 10 games.
Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Booth’s agent, Mike Liut, called the buyout “an opportunity to start over again” and said his client is “excited about it.”
“The way the season ended for him, in his mind, he knows he can play,” said Liut. “He’s getting back to 100 per cent and it’s a new challenge.”
Will anyone give Booth a shot? We’ll have to wait and see. Maybe he’ll have to accept a tryout, like another former much-maligned Canuck winger, Mason Raymond, did last year with the Maple Leafs. Raymond then scored 19 times for Toronto, earning a $9.5 million deal with the Flames.