Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Darryl "Booter' Bootland Player Profile

While I am on vacation (will return February 18) posting some of what I call "Best Of Allen Americans Blog" that maybe you missed when first posted or might enjoy rereading. This is the player profile I did about Darryl and Sarah Bootland which was originally posted December 28, 2012. Much has changed since then as the baby they were expecting at the time, their beautiful daughter Havyn, is about to turn one and that championship Booter was longing for has become a reality.

Darryl Bootland #27
Birthdate: November 2, 1981
Birthplace: Toronto, ONT.
Hometown: Bradford, ONT.
6' 2" 200 lbs.

The first impression when meeting Booter (yes, he prefers Booter or Boots to Darryl) is the same impression you get when you see him play hockey. A guy that truly enjoys what he is doing and expresses it whenever he gets the chance. Someone who feels a 100% work ethic and lots of fun can go hand in hand. But what isn't so obvious until you talk to him is his absolute commitment to his team, the organization, the fans and the community.  He is very serious about using his experience (10 years as a pro) which includes 32 NHL games (Detroit Red Wings & New York Islanders) to help provide leadership. He is proud to be wearing an A on his jersey as an alternate captain.

 Booter's early hockey experience is pretty typical for anyone growing up in Ontario. His parents had six acres in Shelburne and behind the barn was a small pond and a field that would freeze over and create a skating rink. "There were all kinds of bumps on the pond, we would find the smoothest spot and that is where we would play." A few years there was enough water they could skate down the ditch to the neighbors. Booter's earliest hockey memory is at the age of three laying on the ice on the pond behind the barn watching his brother and his friends play hockey. He would make his parents put on his skates but he would not stand up but just lay on the ice and watch. If they would try and take his skates off he would start crying. Bootland's bother, Nick, is three years older and has been a big influence on his hockey career. Nick had a 10 year pro career himself which included over 350 games in the AHL. His last three years as a pro (2005-2008) he played for the Kalamazoo Wings and when he retired he was immediately hired as the head coach of the the Wings and has had that position for the last five years. In 2011 Nick took his team to the finals of the ECHL Championship (Kelly Cup) where his team lost to the Alaska Aces who were led by Scotty Howes who was named MVP of the tournament. Ironically, Booter's roommate on the road is Howes. Yes, hockey is a small world.

As Booter got a little older he started playing a lot with his brother and his brothers friends. He loved when his brother would have pond hockey parties. He credits his toughness to all of the time he spent playing against his brother and his friends who were three and four years older than him. "I was basically a tag along and once I got big enough they all beat me up." Even in the summer Booter was playing hockey with his brother so his parents didn't have to drive to two different tournaments. "They knew I was the younger guy so they tried to pick on me." "I was tall and really skinny but looked bigger because I always had to wear my brothers old equipment which was too big for me."

When he was 15 Bootland started his junior career with the Junior B Orangeville Crushers. Again he was following his brother who had played for the Crushers four years earlier. In 1998 he was selected in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft by the Barrie Colts which was his home town team. His excitement of playing for his hometown team was short lived as at the trade deadline (right after Christmas) he was part of the biggest and most famous trade in Canadian Hockey League (CHL) history, a whopping nine player trade which involved some troubled kids including one who had been in jail.

To make matters worse he was traded to the Toronto St. Micheal's Majors who were in last place. Booter played for St Micheal's for four years and the first two years were very difficult. However, a new coach, Dave Cameron, who now is an assistant with the Ottawa Senators, was hired for the 2000-2001 season. He immediately turned the team around and Booter credits Cameron with teaching him a lot about playing hockey. His junior career ended with an amazing year in 2001-2002 as he had 41 goals and 56 assists in 61 games. His plus/minus was a lofty +48 which led the entire CHL. The year ended in disappointment as they won their division and were favored to win the conference but lost in the finals to the Barrie Colts. Bootland is still the career leader for St. Micheals in goals, points and penalty minutes.

Booter started his pro career in 2002 playing  for the Toledo Storm (ECHL) but was signed by the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) after playing the majority of the season with the Storm. He played for the Griffins for five seasons. During the 2003-2004 season he was called up by the Detroit Red Wings for 22 games and had one goal, one assist along with 74 penalty minutes. During much of his career the way he was asked to play was to fill the role of enforcer. It was a tough job but it was the role he was asked to play. He has had several seasons with over 300 penalty minutes including 2005-2006 with the Griffins where he had 390 penalty minutes.

The last few years Booter has played for many different teams trying to win what has been an elusive  championship. He has been in many championship tournaments along the way with disappointing losses in the semifinals and finals several times. One of the most disappointing seasons was in 2009-2010 when Bootland signed to play for his brother and the Kalmazoo Wings. It had been a dream come true to play for his brother and they had a good team. However, about a third of the way through the season he received an offer to play in Europe (Austria) and he made a decision that in retrospect he regrets. He admits he was thinking more about himself and the dollars and cents and not enough about his teammates. To make matters worse his Austrian team lost in the finals and he came home to watch Kalamazoo loose in the finals as well. Booter told me, "The hardest thing I have ever had to do in hockey was watch my brother and the teammates I left to go to Europe lose in the playoffs."

Americans fans may remember Booter from his previous Central Hockey League stint with the Oddessa Jackalopes in 2010-2011. A couple of his memories of that year include how jealous he was of the Americans facility and surroundings whenever they traveled to Allen. Extra money was sure to be spent when visiting the Americans. He also remembers Kip Brennan roughing him up including a cut on his head from an elbow.

Last year, after Odessa folded, Bootland returned to play for his brother in Kalamazoo and they had a great season loosing in the semifinals of the Kelly Cup tournament.

So how did Booter get to Allen. The first thing you need to know is both the Kalamazoo Wings and the Chicago Express (coached by Steve Martinson) were in the same ECHL division last year. They played each other 14 times during the season so Coach Martinson got to see Booter play a lot. When Martinson got the Americans coaching job he gave Booter a call to see if he was interested in signing with the Americans but Bootland said no because he was fully expecting return to the Kalamazoo Wings. But the more he thought about it the more it appealed to him. He new what a great coach Martinson was and with the new minority owners he felt his best chance for a championship was with the Allen Americans. He decided he really wanted to play for Martinson so he called back to ask if a slot was still available. The rest is history.

I asked Booter about anyone on the current team that he has played with in the past. He has played against Kip Brennan ever since they were fourteen. "He used to chase me around all of our junior career and then we got to pro he continued to chase me around, throw me around and abuse me all of the time. In 2007-2008 we played together in Bridgeport and that was the best thing for me as he didn't lighten up much after we played together but he lightened up a little bit after that. I also played with Scotty Howes & Trevor Ludwig for the Manitoba Moose in 2008-2009."

I also asked Booter if he his having as much fun as it appears he is when you watch him play. He told me as he has aged he has learned to love hockey even more every day, appreciate what he has, and tries to plays every shift and every game as if it were his last. He had a good friend that lost his helmet when his chin strap broke and was knocked out and in a coma for a month. His best friend was in a bad car accident and is a paraplegic. The tragedies and things he has gone through have made him realize you have to enjoy what you are doing.

Here are some comments from his former coaches and teammates about Booter:
     - He is a throwback from the way the game is supposed to be played
     - He has fun
     - He plays hard
     - He does a lot of different things for your team, he can score and fight
     - He keeps guys loose
     - He is great in the locker room
     - He has been in the league a while, he knows how to play
     - His presence is important when you have a lot of new faces and changes

After spending some time with him I now know why he has so much fun playing hockey. I also have an appreciation for how much he is driven to win a championship before he retires. He knows with all of his experience he has something to contribute as a leader and will go out of his way to help his teammates and bring a championship to Allen. He deserves a championship and I look forward to watching the quest and enjoying the result.

Booter is married to his lovely wife Sarah. They met in Mexico when he and his best friend went on a vacation after his friend got a settlement from his accident and Sarah was there for a wedding. They have a six year old son named Trace and are expecting a little girl in March. Sarah is from Willis, Texas which is a small town just north if Conroe.

His mom (Isis) & dad (Chris) owned a Price Chopper grocery store franchise for over 40 years. They now live in Lagoon City which in known as Ontario's "Little Venice" where every home is on the waterway.

When I asked about pets Booter seemed a little embarrassed to admit that yes they had a pet. It is a cat named by Trace. The official name is Aunt Hot Donna Lord Tubbington Bootland but you can call her Hot Donna.

In order to get to know Booter a littler better we asked him some questions:

Roommate On The Road: Scotty Howes, you have to keep the married guys together.

Nickname: Booter, don't call me Darryl.

Hockey Hero: When I was a kid my hero was Brendan Shanahan but then I played with him and he wasn't my hero anymore.

Favorite Actor: Edward Norton

Favorite Actress: Jennifer Aniston

Favorite Type of Music: Rock

Favorite Group: Tragically Hip (Canadian Rock Band)

If You Could Have Lunch With Anyone Living: Wayne Gretzky

One Thing People Would Be Surprised To Learn About You: That I have a cat. My buddies back home would be shocked that I have a cat.

What Chore Do You Hate To Do: Laundry

What Do You Have That Is Great Value To You But Little Value To Others:  My chew tin (Skoal)

Who do You Admire As A Leader: Kip Brennan, he has taught me to be a pro to my body and train like a pro.

Where is the most interesting place you have visited: Barcelona, Spain

If You Could Live In Another Country For Two Years Where Would You Live: Australia

If You Could Be Anything Besides a Pro Athlete What Would It Be: Rock Star

Any Pregame Superstitions: I eat the same, sleep the same hours, do everything the same, get dressed from right to left, if I haven't scored in a while the stick goes in the garbage can before every game.

Who Is The Funniest Guy On The Team: Drew Daniels with his dry humor.

Favorite Childhood Toy: Ninja Turtle Pizza Thrower

Who Is Your Number One Fan: Uncle Ernie & Papa Jerry

What Do You Like To Do To Kill Time On The Bus: Read baby books. I've just finished my third one.

Favorite Motto or Saying: Before every game I say to the guys "Let's have some F****** fun, this F****** game is supposed to be F****** fun. Then they know I am ready to go.

Favorite TV Show: Modern Family & Duck Dynasty. My teammates call me Uncle Si

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