The Vancouver Canucks play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.
For two members of the Maple Leafs – Mike Santorelli and David Booth – it means a meeting against their former team. Of course, the head coach behind Vancouver’s bench, now Willie Desjardins, is different from last year.
Under John Tortorella, fired after one dreadful season with the Canucks, Santorelli soared until a shoulder injury and surgery ended what was a bounce back season in January. For Booth, well, he had mixed results playing for the fiery bench boss and that’s putting it diplomatically. The two clearly had differing personalities.
Finally healthy, Booth was much better toward the end of the season.
By then, the speculation of a summer buyout was increasing as the Canucks fell further out of the playoff race and attention was turning toward off-season changes, which included the firing of Tortorella.
“Guys have different viewpoints on him,” said Booth, as per Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press. “He was hard. He thought I was weird and I thought he was weird.”
Booth underachieved in the three seasons he spent in Vancouver. He scored 16 goals and 29 points in 56 games in 2011-12, when Vancouver acquired him early in the season from Florida, but that was his most productive year with the Canucks.
His time with the Canucks was marred by injuries.
The Canucks used a compliance buyout on the charismatic forward in the off-season.
His luck didn’t change much after he arrived in Toronto. He suffered a fractured foot in the pre-season.
“It wasn’t even a blocked shot,” Booth told The Province newspaper in Vancouver. “Somebody passed it right to my foot, so it was really a fluke. I hate lower-body injuries, especially at the start of the season and it just seems to be my nemesis.
“And the stuff you need only comes with game shape, the reading of plays and puck protection. That takes time and it’s frustrating. But I think I’ve learned from past injuries to stay on top of it and keep spirits high or it’s going to be a long year.”