David Booth unsure he'll be healthy for Canucks' season opener
Canucks forward David Booth hopes to be ready to play for the start of the season. (Lyle Aspinall/QMI Agency/Files)
With his summer stuck recovering from ankle surgery, David Booth spent more time strengthening his upper body than ever before. He had no choice.
Left to train while being cautious with his left leg — which for some time was also in a cast — the Vancouver Canucks forward at one point shot up to 237 pounds.
It was only about two weeks ago the 28-year-old was finally able to push himself hard with his conditioning, and has now gone back down to about 205 pounds — a weight he wants to be at in order to feel lighter, faster and have higher endurance.
With training camp starting next week and the regular season about a month away, Booth hopes to be ready.
But first, he needs to be medically cleared — which he's not — and he can't really put a percentage on how close he is to being fully healthy or just to be back in game shape.
"Even mid-late August, I was still frustrated with how long this injury takes," Booth said Tuesday, after skating with about 20 other players at the University of B.C. "I was sticking to upper body to stay in shape and it was tough. I pride myself on my skating … so just being able to do that again in the past couple weeks, it's finally feeling good but it is a long time to get to where you need to be.
"It is the most frustrated I've been, even more so than my concussion. You want to be able to do something but you can't."
Last season, Booth played only 12 games for the Canucks, scoring once and adding two assists. He was set back right from the start when he suffered a groin injury on the first day of training camp, and went on to miss the first 14 games of the shortened campaign. Then, after his return, he broke his ankle on March 16 against the Detroit Red Wings, resulting in surgery and the end to his season.
While the injury held him back in the summer and remains a challenge for him moving forward, it also gave the winger time to focus on another part of his off-season growth — strengthening the mental aspect of being a professional athlete. Or in Booth's case, a public figure who has been rather vocal about his Christian faith.
Taking the initiative to learn more, the Detroit native travelled to England with his sister in July for a seven-day course on theology at Oxford.
"It's something I'm interested in," he said. "Just trying to get a better understanding for my faith and why do I believe what I believe? There's a lot of questions that are brought up in societies and in cultures. I just don't want to say, 'Well, that's just what I believe because I believe.' I want to have truth behind it and reasoning behind it so that's why I went over there."
The idea to take the full-day classes was all thanks to the questioning nature of fans he interacts with online, admits Booth.
"It was through my Twitter actually," he said. "I've always been a Christian and just didn't really know anything of the cultural background of Vancouver and people just raised some good questions through some of my tweets, and I guess I didn't have the best answers for them.
"The class is more just to help me communicate with people and have good conversations."
How all that translates into his on-ice performance remains to be seen but Booth stresses his off-ice activities — whether it be hunting or taking classes — is vital to a healthy balance.
"I like learning and challenging the brain," he said. "(Hockey is) so demanding on the stress levels, the mental ability, the capacity to think the game, and as long as you're always training your mind, that actually indirectly helps your hockey game."