VANCOUVER - The All-Americans. The HBK line. The American Express.
Call them whatever you want.
Either way, the Vancouver Canucks’ newly shuffled second line is just looking forward to playing together for the first time Tuesday night in Edmonton.
With the recently acquired David Booth in town Monday and skating with the team at practice, the left winger will join Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins on a line that, for now, appears to be a balanced scoring threat – at least on paper.
“It’s a new challenge for me and I’m excited for it,” Booth said in front of a media hoard, something clearly not a regular sight with his former team, the Florida Panthers. “This is the polar opposite,” he confirmed with a laugh.
The spotlight, playing in a rabid hockey market, will also be something for the 26-year-old to get used to. Off the bat, he’ll face the pressure of having to snap out of his early season funk that has seen him register just one assist through six games with the Panthers. Familiarity will also help, having played in the past with several Canucks, including both his new linemates, as will the new environment and opportunity.
“This is nothing but good for me,” Booth said. “It’ll take time and if things go well, it’ll be good to stay with Kes and Higgy. There’s more expected of you here and I’m ready for that.”
Booth, who will don jersey No. 7 because his 16-year-old sister, Rachael, wears it, brings size –- 6-foot, 212-pounds -– and speed to complement the gritty and tough-to-defend approach of Kesler.
In addition to calling the Selke Trophy winner a great leader, Booth said there’s been some good memories playing with Kesler, including winning the world junior gold medal with the 2004 USA national team.
Kesler spoke highly of his fellow Michigan native when consulted by management before the trade, according to coach Alain Vigneault. And Monday, the centre reiterated much of the same, adding the new winger provides speed, grit and “another deadly shot on our line.”
For now, Booth is focused on a fresh start. Following a pair of concussions in 2009-2010, he had 40 points, 280 shots (12th overall) and a career-worst minus-31 last season. He’s confident he can now bounce back to the 30-plus goal scorer he was three years ago.
“I feel now I can get back there and even higher,” he said. “I have my own expectations for myself and I know when I’m doing the right thing and when I’m not.”
It seems though that he’s off to a good start already, based on first impressions with his new coach.
“My initial response was that he sounded really professional, really accountable,” Vigneault said. “We’re all very confident, him and us, that this is going to work out really good for both.”