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Rookie Bootland Impresses Wings

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- These are exciting times for Darryl Bootland, a 22-year-old Red Wings' rookie who is impressing teammates and fans with his aggressive play.

Bootland, who played 6 minutes, 32 seconds in Saturday's 1-1 tie with the Minnesota Wild, was called up from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. In the last four games, he has shown an ability to forecheck, finish checks and fight.

Bootland replaced Darren McCarty who suffered a back injury.

"He seems to know the right time of the game when to pick the team up," Coach Dave Lewis said. "He's been strong on the boards. He's a good forechecker. He's gung ho and upbeat. He's excited about being here. He's excited about being on the ice. And he knows how to play."

Bootland, an undrafted free agent, had a good training camp and exhibition season.

"Those impressions were very important for us calling him up," Lewis said.

He got his first NHL point Wednesday night, setting up Steve Thomas winning goal against the Dallas Stars. Bootland played four seasons with Toronto St. Michael's of the Ontario Hockey League, the same team that Thomas practiced with before being the Wings signed him.

"They're calling it the St. Mike's connection," Bootland said. "He (Thomas) was practicing with my old team. That was pretty cool. The guys have been calling and talking about the connection. ... It's all been pretty exciting." 

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