It’s no secret David Booth struggled during his time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Much of that can be attributed to various injuries—Booth missed a total of 68 regular-season games in less than three seasons with the Canucks after being acquired from the Florida Panthers in 2011—but being on a Western Conference schedule also had its drawbacks.
The Detroit native thinks playing in the Eastern Conference again will benefit his game.
“It really is tough [playing in the West], and for me personally the amount of rest I get is the most important thing for the way I feel, the amount of energy I have,” Booth told The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “Travel kind of wears you out. Those are things every team has to deal with. I just think some guys adjust to it differently, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be in Toronto and to be in the East. Hopefully [travel fatigue] doesn’t play such a big role as it did in Vancouver.”
Booth registered a disappointing 19 points in 66 games last season, and it resulted in a significant pay cut from the $4.25 million per season he’d been making since 2009 before being bought out in June. The Leafs signed him to a one-year, $1.1-million contract in July, and Booth believes he’s ready for a bounce-back performance.
“It was just a tough year. You look at last year in Vancouver… everyone had down years. It wasn’t just one guy. And sometimes I feel like I get the blame for that,” Booth said. “I started to play much better the last 20 games and kind of getting back to where I was beforehand, so I’m looking to carry that momentum into this year.”
Booth, who will don the No. 20 for the Leafs, added that he’s never been as excited to start a season since perhaps his rookie campaign.
“I really feel the best I’ve ever felt, and that’s exciting going into a new year when you’re feeling good and when you’re healthy and working hard all summer and it’s finally here,” he said.
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The 29-year-old, who has been working with a new skating coach, said he doesn’t want to label his role on the team. Instead, he plans on coming into the 2014-15 campaign ready to compete, play physical and not think about goals.
“That’s what I did when I was in Florida,” the six-foot, 212-pound left winger explained. “I didn’t really label myself to a certain position; I just went tout there and played the game. I used my speed and used my size to get to the front of the net. Those are the things that I did, and the goals came with it. I wasn’t necessarily going out there trying to score.
“When you go out there and try to score goals or put pressure on yourself… then each game you don’t score, you start to get negative feedback. Just using your size and getting to the areas where you score goals from, that’s what’s most important for me this year.”
If the goals don’t come right away, Booth still thinks he’ll bring a lot to the Leafs lineup.
“Something that I’m going to take a lot of pride in is being one of those players that is not a liability to the team but an asset in so many other areas than just scoring,” Booth said. “I know [scoring is] something I can do, but I just don’t want to base my entire game around that because sometimes you go through stretches where it can be really tough throughout the year.”
In 443 games with the Canucks and Panthers, the 53rd-overall pick in the 2004 draft has 113 goals, 105 assists and 181 penalty minutes.