Just as Canuck fans decide he’s necessary, David Booth turns up injured

David Booth isn’t particularly popular among Canucks fans. His twin habits of hunting and tweeting about hunting have not endeared him to Vancouver’s more lovey-dovey population (that is, those who love doves and other assorted animals). Moreover, his conservative Christianity and tendency to express that conservative Christianity publicly were intolerable to those who preach tolerance.

Throughout the lockout, I saw calls for the Canucks to trade him immediately, while others suggested using one of the amnesty buyouts that the new CBA would surely provide to send him packing. The public sentiment appeared to be: Get. Him. Out of here.

Then the lockout ended. Hockey returned. Training camp started. And Booth came down with a groin strain and went in for an MRI on Monday. Suddenly, Booth wasn’t so easily dispensable, as Canucks fans remembered that with both Ryan Kesler and Booth injured, the Canucks are down to having just one-third of a second line.

Without hockey, it was easy to advocate getting rid of a player for non-hockey reasons. As soon as hockey came back, people seemed to remember that Booth is pretty good at it and the Canucks probably want him around.

I have my own opinions as to why people care so much about how Booth spends his free time, which I’ll get into in a later post, but the distaste over Booth essentially stems from his lifestyle choices, not his ability on the ice. While Booth’s 2011-12 season was not ideal, he was still tied for 5th in goal-scoring on the Canucks despite missing 20 games. When looking at possession statistics, Booth was clearly Kesler’s best linemate, and the line of Booth, Kesler, and Chris Higgins was extremely effective at even-strength.

Without Booth, the second line becomes some combination of Mason Raymond, Jordan Schroeder, Andrew Ebbett, Zack Kassian, and Chris Higgins. In other words, it becomes a gamble, with no assurances that the Canucks will be anything more than a one-line team.

In addition, Booth was one of the Canucks most effective players on the powerplay. Of players who received any significant amount of time on the powerplay last season, Booth was second to only Henrik Sedin in points-per-60-minutes.

It’s easy to see why there is concern, though it is a little premature at this point. There’s still no indication as to how severe Booth’s groin strain is, but the speculation is running rampant already. Partly fueled by a Jason Botchford’s insinuation that Booth didn’t train properly during the lockout, that he spent too much time state-hopping in search of animals to shoot, a number of Canucks fans have found reason to conveniently blame even this injury on Booth’s extended offseason activities.

Never mind that everyone expected there to be a massive string of injuries as training camps across the NHL started up. Never mind that Dan Hamhuis missed the first day of training camp with a groin strain despite skating regularly at UBC during the lockout. Clearly, Booth’s groin strain was a sign that he wasn’t skating during the lockout, despite saying exactly the opposite to Ben Kuzma of The Province.

Booth starts his day at 4 a.m. He works out and then skates before heading to the woods for a few hours of hunting. Then comes lunch, more hunting, dinner and lights out. So much for the lavish lifestyle of a well-paid pro. But that’s Booth. He’s wired in a much different way. He doesn’t own a home so the chameleon simply adapts to his surroundings — wherever they may be.

In that same article, Booth admits that he couldn’t “keep the pace I had in July and August in getting ready,” but you have to consider the source. Booth is an admitted fitness freak, to the point that Kevin Bieksa claimed he works out too much and the Canucks actually had to tell him to work out less. Not keeping the same pace as he normally would have before a training camp doesn’t mean the same thing for Booth that it might mean for others. In addition, he wasn’t just sitting around on a couch playing X-Box. He was hunting, which called for him to go for long hikes into the mountains.

“He told me he was on the ice four or five times a week,” Alain Vigneault told Ben Kuzma. “Sometimes, these things happen.” But Botchford poked a hole in Booth’s skating frequency by pointing out that the winger managed to find time for at least 18 flights during the lockout. “Maybe on one of those rinks they have in jet airplanes now?” Botchford quipped. We’d poke a hole in the hole-poking by pointing out that the lockout was 17 weeks. Even skating 5 times a week, that would have left Booth with 34 days to be in the air instead of on the ice. Skating 4 times a week, he’s got 51 off-days. And this is assuming he didn’t skate on a flight day, which hockey players have been known to do.

When he got back into Vancouver, Booth even went so far as to stay on the ice after the rest of the Canucks had left, skating lines. This is not a guy who was in bad shape.

It seems to me that Booth didn’t tweak his groin because he was unprepared; he tweaked his groin because sometimes groin tweaks happen, and because there are few turns as abrupt as the one from dispensable to indispensable.

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43 comments

  1. Joel
    January 14, 2013

    “Moreover, his conservative Christianity and tendency to express that conservative Christianity publicly were intolerable to those who preach tolerance.”

    Nice one.

    Personally, I have no problem with Booth’s private life, with the exception of the bear baiting incident, which was despicable and not by any means hunting.

    But I liked your subtle shot at those who take exception that the man follows the mainstream religion of North America and actually is open about it. No one give Luo crap for crossing himself, because he doesn’t tweet about it.

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    • Sandro
      January 14, 2013

      That’s pretty much exactly why he gets crap about it. No one would care if he stated his beliefs and left it at that, but it’s the constant tweeting about it that gets on people’s nerves.

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      • Timmy Wong
        January 14, 2013

        Mike Fisher’s pretty open about his faith, and he tweets regularly on it. Maybe it’s just the Vancouver air, and by that I mean the attitude…

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        • LB
          January 16, 2013

          People in Vancouver can be really pretentious and uptight. I just laugh at some people when I am back in town.

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      • Wetcoaster
        January 14, 2013

        It’s not like anyone is obligated to follow his twitter. That would be like someone easily offended by sarcasm following strombone1.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          January 14, 2013

          Exactly. He’s not on the sidewalk handing out leaflets and tracts or anything. He’s on his personal twitter account that people voluntarily follow.

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          • Frank N
            January 14, 2013

            And even if he was on the sidewalk, it’s his personal belief and last I checked, this is a free country where people are free to practice their own beliefs. Or hand out flyers. Or tweet about it.

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            • Sans
              January 16, 2013

              I agree entirely, but it’s also a free country where people are free to be irritated by what others have to say. Just sayin’
              Has Booth had an unnecessary rough ride? Yeah probably. But the response of being offended by people not caring for what Booth says is not much different.

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        • Nee
          January 14, 2013

          Exactly. I like Booth, but I didn’t want to see tweets about Christianity and hunting, so I just un-followed him. Simple as that.

          Fyi: I’m not saying what he was tweeting about is bad. But if you don’t want to see what he tweets about, just un-follow.

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      • Andre
        January 15, 2013

        The funny thing is: if he was gay and tweeted about being a gay hockey player, I bet most people here would embrace him and commend his courage.

        So, ask yourselves: why would it be OK to be gay, but not OK to be Christian? Why is such a judgment is OK?

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        • Kenji
          January 15, 2013

          If gays were attempting to enforce gayness on everyone then you might have a valid point. (Yes, I recognize that there is a liberal, open-minded, progressive Christianity which doesn’t get the airtime or mindshare of that other, caterwauling brand, but you know what I mean)

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          • Daniel Wagner
            January 15, 2013

            Has Booth tried to force anyone to share his beliefs? No? Then what’s your point?

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        • REALIST
          January 15, 2013

          BECAUSE CHRISTIANITY IS A FARCE BASED ON LIES AND HALF TRUTHS. BOOTH IS A ZEALOT AND A KILLER OF INNOCENT ANIMALS. HE SHOULD GET A LIFE AND PRACTICE WHAT HE “CONTINUOUSLY” PREACHES.

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          • Kesler's Nose
            January 17, 2013

            Typing in caps is a sign of small junk!

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      • Fueren
        January 17, 2013

        Imagine if you could do something about it, like not following his twitter… wouldn’t that be something!?

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  2. Jordan
    January 14, 2013

    Fantastic read, I agree with everything that was written. Booth’s private life is his own and although people are more than allowed to judge information that they’re given, they shouldn’t let said information affect their opinion of him as a hockey player. Additionally, without some evidence to support it, blaming his off-ice habits for a very, very common injury is without merit.

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  3. peanutflower
    January 14, 2013

    Hockey prowess aside, and personally I’m not all down for the end to end rush and marginal finish, it’s not hard to see why Booth grates on the Canadian psyche. He embodies all that we love to hate about Americans. He’s a gun totin’, critter killin’, God fearin’ Merican who probably voted Republican. And he’s not apologetic about it. I have US relatives like that and we have little to say to each other. It’s not a problem, as I doubt I’ll ever have the chance for a heart to heart with Booth, but he’s a good player and I guess that trumps all the other nonsense. I’d like to see an improvement in this short season. Oh, hey, wait, I pledged to not watch a bunch of games because I’m pissed off, so the season will be REALLY short for me.

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  4. zach
    January 14, 2013

    During the playoffs last year, when Daniel Sedin began skating with the team after an extended layoff, particularly with the first power play unit, I tweeted to someone at the province (I won’t name names) that I thought he would play. My basis was that Canucks brass wouldn’t waste precious practice time by putting Daniel Sedin on a struggling power play only to have him not play. It didn’t make sense to me, why would Daniel be practicing with the 1st unit that was already having incredible difficulties against the Kings if he wasn’t going to be playing with them. It would have made more sense to me to put someone there during practice who may actually play on the line during the series, rather than someone who, according to the individual, would not. Hence why I believed Daniel would play. He said there was no way I was right and that Daniel Sedin would not be playing as it was purely a tactic to get inside the head of the Kings. Daniel Sedin played the following game. He’s allowed to be wrong, he is human, but outright dismissing my opinion just because I was “wrong” really annoyed me. I doubt Booth spent too much time hunting and as a result pulled his groin. It’s more likely that Booth spent the better part of 8 months training instead of a regular 4, and when it became time to turn it up to regular practice speed, in addition to probably pushing himself as a result of an eagerness to return to playing hockey, he over extended his groin and is now hurt. But I’ve been “wrong” before.

    sorry for the paragraph but it needed to be said!

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  5. anon
    January 14, 2013

    I dislike Booth because he acts like he has rocks in his head. He doesn’t strike me as an overly smart/cerebral hockey player, and the fact he kept droning on about hunting and killing stuff — even after there was a significant amount of backlash over it — reeks of boneheaded single-mindedness.

    And finally, let’s put the hunting issue to bed. For me, it’s not about hunting. Put it this way. If Booth’s biggest passion/hobby was stem cell research, or porn, or shark fin soup, or picketing abortion clinics (given that all of these are legal and protected by whatever amendment, etc. etc.) and he kept promoting them despite public protestations simply because “it was his right,” I’d consider him as equal an idiot. Anyone that brings that much heat on themselves BY CHOICE is dumb.

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    • Kelvin Yu
      January 14, 2013

      That isn’t a great argument though. He’s talking about what he believes is right, even though people disagree with him. Now I personally think that it’s an admirable trait even though I disagree with some of what he says, but that’s a whole other discussion.

      I’m not saying that him talking about hunting or Christianity or whatever is on the same level at all, but are you saying that all the people throughout history that promoted their own beliefs over that of societies is dumb? I would say not. It’s not as if what he’s tweeting about is blatantly hateful either. If he was talking about how gay people should die or we should shoot abortion doctors, than yeah, but he talks about things that are relatively harmless and perfectly legal. It’s not fair to judge him as dumb because of his hobbies.

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      • anon
        January 15, 2013

        “but are you saying that all the people throughout history that promoted their own beliefs over that of societies is dumb?”

        I don’t think you can equate “promoting their own beliefs” and “putting pictures of dead billy goats on Twitter.”

        I also don’t understand how any of this s**t is beneficial to his team and the organization. It’s not like anybody needs MORE distractions in their lives.

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    • bestbehaviour
      January 14, 2013

      Message to athletes: get off Twitter! Or if you’re on, don’t tweet about the things you do and think!

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  6. akidd
    January 14, 2013

    18 flights! dude is a killing machine. maybe for rehab the canucks should send him out bow-hunting some interior wolves. give him a pack and some snowshoes and set him loose.

    because i didn’t forget the actual hockey booth. personally i’m really hoping raymond is nicely healed up and no booth might give him more time with the puck. while also not remembering the version where booth was an effective second liner who will be missed there i don’t remember the version where a second line with chris higgins would be questionable.

    those two with ebbet could be interesting. and there’s nothing wrong with giving kassian a look too. it should hold em for awhile. the d-corps looks pretty solid and will definitely need to contribute offensively as well. we’ll see how it goes.

    for me the only problem with booth’s injury is that he can’t be traded to philly.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 14, 2013

      I guess there’s no point in putting links to the statistics that show how effective Booth was if no one’s going to click them…

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      • akidd
        January 14, 2013

        we’ve been down this road before, daniel. you say pushes possesion stats, i say suppresses shooting percentage. and looking at the second line’s overall production compared to the year before isn’t pretty either. sure, that’s mostly injuries but booth gets to claim a chunk of the blame too, imho. but mostly, i think that booth doesn’t know what to do with the puck and has limited vision. lacks smarts basically. but he’s a workhorse and if he did more crashing the net and popping in garbage goals i’d be all for it. i have no problems enjoying him scoring goals if he cares to. i just honestly don’t expect much from him.

        just saying for the money booth makes i’d take higgins any day of the week. as well, maybe it’s a chance for raymond to get going for whom i have a much softer spot than booth.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          January 14, 2013

          Fair enough, fair enough.

          But as for overall production between 2011-12 and 2010-11, I’d like to take a quick look at that. Let’s use Kesler, Booth, and Higgins for 2011-12 and Kesler, Samuelsson, and Raymond for 2010-11. At even strength, the second line combined for 48 goals in 2010-11. In 2011-12, the second line combined for 42 goals at even strength. That’s not a huge difference, particularly when you consider the 20 missed games for Booth, which were largely due to the knee-on-knee hit, which cannot be blamed on Booth or how he plays. In fact, he got that injury doing exactly what you’re asking for: going hard to the net.

          Higgins, on the other hand, could perhaps be blamed for missed games since his “injury” was an infection that is normally prevented through proper hygiene.

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  7. betty
    January 14, 2013

    For Pete sake ! Can we not stop dissecting people? Has David really affected your life? This is a Hockey player . Every human is different, unique. Maybe he thinks we are all idiots. He’s not out here yapping about us. He said Twitter is about his Private life, Not his Hockey life. So, I disagree with his lifestyle, his belief system, so bloody what? Maybe he disagrees with mine, i really could care less. David is not nasty, mean nor a jerk. Christians are asked to “spread the Word”, that’s his Faith. As natural to him as breathing. Please, some of you castigated Luongo, he didn’t deserve it either. If you are going to judge him , let it be for his “on ice” performance.

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    • Kesler's Nose
      January 15, 2013

      Hey Betty, if were talking Lou’s “on-ice” performance? Especially in the playoffs? Enough said,trade him!

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  8. Brent
    January 14, 2013

    Interesting how groins, guns and god come together with hockey to generate a lot of comments in a short period of time.

    Didn’t realize how much I missed Bulis.

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  9. Andrew
    January 14, 2013

    If you can play, you can play. Does not just apply to homosexuality in my opinion. Booth helps the team, bottom line. As long as he is obeying the law and not forcing his views on anyone else, we should all just relax. Just my two cents.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 14, 2013

      I agree with this.

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  10. Chinstrap Joe
    January 14, 2013

    Mike Fisher – Canadian Born Again Christian NHL player who hunts.
    David Booth – American Born Again Christian NHL player who hunts.

    Pretty easy to see where the root of the anger lies…

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  11. Snepsts
    January 14, 2013

    Booth is a good hockey player on my team, and he might be injured. This makes me sad. Everything else is just white noise. I sincerely hope he is OK and can come back and do his job. We need him.

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  12. Kesler's Nose
    January 15, 2013

    What a bunch of hog wash. Why do you bring “bible thumper” into the picture? Just say he’s injured…You can tell the script writers have been a little rusty.

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  13. Harold Snepts' Moustache
    January 15, 2013

    I think the writer sums up nicely the interest/headscratching reaction from fans to the man that is David Booth.

    Everyone’s allowed to have a personal life. I just find it funny that a guy who tweets about how much he loves god and follows his plan, also places bait out for a bear, climbs a tree to hide out of sight, and blindsides the bear with a bullet. That’s not ‘hunting’.
    I’ve been on hunts before (Caribou in the north) and eaten the results with both happiness and respect. I highly doubt Booth has eaten the bear.
    But that’s me, and he’s entitled to his opinion as much as anyone. The fight’s really with the authorities to make Booth-style baiting illegal.

    On the hockey front, I wish him well and hope he steps up this year to provide stability and bite (pun intended) on the second line. We need it.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 15, 2013

      It’s fair to find bear-baiting distasteful and you can definitely make the argument that it should be illegal. But I’d like to clarify that Booth uses bows and crossbows, not guns, when he hunts.

      A number of people have said that they doubt Booth eats what he hunts, when Booth has said the exact opposite on Twitter. I see no reason to doubt that he and his friends ate the bear.

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      • Harold Snepts' Moustache
        January 15, 2013

        Thanks for the bear facts. Hope he did eat the bear after killing it.
        Bow, gun, whatever, setting out bait and waiting in the shadows to kill a bear is worth a 10 for unsportsmanlike conduct. But again, apparently it’s not illegal yet. Don’t know if that makes it any better.

        All that being said, here’s to a speedy recovery for David Booth.

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  14. rob
    January 15, 2013

    No-one has mentioned that the other groin injured player is our favourite home grown Canuck, who is a committed Christian and grew up hiking and (gasp) hunting the mountains around Smithers.

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  15. tj
    January 15, 2013

    It’s interesting how fans feel a certain ownership of their teams. We figure, hey, we pay their bills, in some way, they should get back to work and entertain us and win cups and stop bitching and stop twittering stuff we don’t like. They should behave. They make good money, they should suck it up. They should be like me. They should be better than me.

    It’s interesting because the owners (and NHL Commissioner) of these teams that just faced-off during a four-month lockout seem to have a similar perspective.

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  16. Kenji
    January 15, 2013

    Everyone relax about Booth’s injury! I just read that Scott Gomez is getting bought out.

    What was his Surrey Eagles number?

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  17. Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
    January 15, 2013

    I disagree with David Booth’s politics. I do not share his religion.

    I do however, enjoy watching him play hockey. From everything I’ve seen (and I do follow him on Twitter) he simply tweets about what’s important to him; and that’s what I always thought Twitter was for.

    I hope he recovers quickly and does not come back too soon.

    I will say that I find most of the conservative Christian hunter = gun nut comments to be in poor taste at the very least. As Daniel said, Booth doesn’t hunt with a gun (he’s on record as saying he doesn’t own one). If you’re going to criticize someone, I think you should get your facts straight before opening your mouth. I hate the bear baiting, but I’m not going to call a bow or crossbow hunter a gun nut because I hate how he hunts bears and don’t share his religion.

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  18. TeeJay
    January 15, 2013

    Damn! I just said ask David Booth for a RABBIT’S FOOT for Pinissoto.I didn’t say the one that the BEAR got in his hand.

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  19. LC
    January 16, 2013

    I know for a fact that he trained during the lock-out.. this is from a Wild fan who opened a rink for him on a regular basis…. Some (most) of you Canuck fans are idiots…. Best of luck David, get back soon…all you need to know deep down inside is that you did train….the nay-sayers don’t matter.

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