Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill talks about the impact David Booth has had on the team this season. Ted Kulfan, Detroit News
Detroit — This will be a special weekend for David Booth.
The Red Wings’ forward, who made the team out of training camp while on a tryout, was scheduled to be in the lineup Thursday against Montreal and is likely to play Saturday against the New York Islanders when the Wings finish the season.
Booth, 33, hasn’t played much (26 games, 4 goals, 1 assist), but has been an important figure in the locker room, offering perspective to younger players.
“Love him,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “David has been a great person to have around, especially for some of the young players here. He brings a couple of things. He brings an unreal day-to-day work ethic. He’s unreal, one of the hardest working guys in the gym I’ve ever seen.
“Then he brings an unreal perspective. He’s been in this league, he’s been a 30-goal goal scorer, he’s been out of this league, and probably feels lucky to be back in the league and understands the perspective how special every day in the NHL is.
“And he’s able to pass that on to our other players.”
Booth grew up in Washington Township and played at Michigan State. To be around family and friends all season, including this weekend, has made this season that much more special.
“Growing up here and heading down to Red Wings games to watch them, being in minor hockey and being around so many good teams, the Red Wings were so good when I was growing up and that plays into the whole Detroit culture here,” Booth said. “I remember in high school or grade school, every single car had a Detroit Red Wings flag on it. It’s something we were engulfed in. It’s Hockeytown.
“It’s really exciting to finish off the season playing the last couple games,” Booth said. “Especially at the start of the year, the odds were against me being here this long.”
Booth played in Russia’s Kontinental League the last couple seasons but wanted to try the NHL one more time.
When Booth contacted general manager Ken Holland about a try-out, the chances were slim of making the final roster. But an impressive training camp and exhibition season earned him a spot on the final roster.
“It’s been a tough season for the team, we’ve obviously not reached our goal of making the playoffs,” Booth said. “But for me personally, it’s been a fun year. Even though you’re not in the lineup, I don’t know if fun is the right word, but rewarding year, something that I enjoyed the most out of my professional career.”
Booth credits this particular roster as making it such a rewarding season.
“Being around these guys, they’ve been real encouraging, whether it’s because they didn’t expect me to be here, kind of an underdog, I don’t know, but they’ve been great to me and it’s just been real fun to be around,” Booth said. “It’s like family and probably the best group of guys I’ve been around, and that’s what made it fun for me.”
Playing in Russia, and now returning to North America, has given this experience a new perspective.
“Going to Russia for two years just opened my eyes, that’s what I always say,” Booth said. “We have so much more to be thankful for. Life is so much more than winning or losing. Our human nature is to want to win, but when you lay your head down at night, you realize I’m an American and we have such a good life.
“It has been awesome (this season), and most likely these are going to be my last two games. I understand the dynamics of the NHL now and I understand my situation. It’s going to be exciting to have my family here and being with the Red Wings, it’s really cool.”
Blashill ruled out Luke Glendening (upper body injury) for these final two games of the season. Blashill said it’s more of a precautionary move.
…Blashill said the Red Wings felt it was best to keep defensemen Filip Hronek in Grand Rapids rather than give Hronek a taste of the NHL these past few weeks.
“He’s had an excellent season down there but our belief is that rather than give him 5, 6, 7 games up here, let him stay there and continue to develop,” Blashill said. “He’s had a great year of development. Why disrupt that development? Every situation a little bit different.”