It has been over four years since the “Booooooth” chants rained down from the rafters of the BB&T Center. An electric player who the Florida Panthers fan base had not possessed in many years.
Booth recorded his best statistics as a pro in 2008-09:
- 31 goals/29 assists/60 points in 72 games played
- 11 power play goals
- Five game winning goals
- 12.6 shooting percentage (career high)
- Local fans selected him as the Panthers’ MVP
This impressive campaign inspired the Panthers faithful to believe that the Detroit product could change the landscape for a perpetually goal-starved organization. The franchise still has the likes of: Radek Dvorak, Viktor Kozlov and Rob Niedermayer ranked inside the Panthers top ten all-time goals list. Those three players are “near and dear” to most Panther fans hearts, but it also indicates the lack of true scoring talent in the franchise’s history.
Booth in limited action with the Florida Panthers organization (309 GP) still ranks 9th all time in franchise goals per game (0.28) and 10th all time in franchise goals (87).
He never reached this level of production again. In fact, he only reached the 40-point plateau one more time (40 points in 2010-11).
The turning point in Booth’s career was an infamous moment on October 24th, 2009.
It was one of the darkest days in Panthers history: when (then) Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Richards knocked out Booth with a devastating open-ice hit as the Panthers forward was entering the attacking zone.
Richards dirty hit impacted me greatly as I was celebrating my birthday while watching my favorite player during that time lay prone on the ice. The sight of Booth being carried off on a stretcher silenced the perennially rabid Philadelphia Flyers crowd.
While surprisingly not a suspendable offense at the time, this hit, as well as Matt Cooke’s concussion-inducing elbow to the head of Marc Savard, encouraged the NHL to institute five-minute major penalties and game misconduct to punish blind side hits.
Booth would return later in the season only to incur yet another concussion.
He was never the same dynamic hockey player after those two hits.
"“I felt at home,” Booth said Tuesday after participating in his first informal practice with mostly new teammates at the team’s practice facility. “If feels like I was here last year.”"
Booth appeared poised to be a long-term scoring threat for the Panthers following his breakout campaign. It is really sad to reflect upon how his career ultimately panned out.