David Booth hasn’t formally retired yet, but the forward likely played his last NHL game when the Red Wings wrapped up their regular season on April 7th vs. the New York Islanders.
Booth played a supporting role on the Red Wings’ roster, reclaiming NHL credentials after two seasons abroad; before a severe concussion changed the course of his career.
The Athletic’s Katie Strang retells the tale of Booth’s concussion in a superb article this evening:
The date is Oct. 24, 2009, and the Philadelphia Flyers are leading the Florida Panthers 3-1 at the Wachovia Center.
David Booth, coming off a 30-goal campaign the previous season, has scored the Panthers’ only goal of the game. There’s a little over three minutes remaining in the second period, and the Detroit native is barreling through the neutral zone with the puck, when he crosses the blue line and turns his head ever so slightly as he makes a drop pass to teammate Stephen Weiss. This is when the shoulder of Flyers center Mike Richards connects with Booth’s head and obliterates his path, sending him to the ice in a grotesque spin.
This is the exact moment when David Booth’s career, and in many ways, his life, changed forever.
“Here comes David Booth. He has the Panther goal tonight — Oh, did he get hit hard. Oh my goodness. David Booth is down. He got hit high on the ice, and he hasn’t moved. Oh my goodness.”
You can hear it right then in the voice of Panthers broadcaster Steve Goldstein — a mix of terror and concern. This is not just any thunderous hit. The camera cuts to Booth, face down and prone on the ice, motionless, and then back to the bench. Booth’s teammates look stunned, and there’s a palpable sense of the unknown.
“There’s an immediate emotional anger or response,” said Pete DeBoer, who was behind the bench for the Panthers that season. “And then it turns to fear for the player, when he gets stretchered off the ice. Rarely do you see that. We knew that once he was stretchered off and taken off to the hospital, that’s when there was real fear and concern to our group.”
Strang continues at length, reporting that Booth is working with Hockey Ministries International this summer.