TORONTO -Ė The irony did not escape Bob Boughner.
The former NHL tough guy -- 1,382 penalty minutes in 632 regular-season games, including 111 fights -- was on a panel at the World Hockey Summit Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre talking about skill development.
He was sitting next to former NHLer Brendan Shanahan, now working for the league, on the stage for the first seminar at the Summit, which has brought together many of the movers and shakers in hockey to do some navel gazing over the next three days.
"Shanny and I were talking about that over coffee this morning -- being on this panel -- who'd have thought?" Boughner said with a laugh.
The 39-year-old has emerged as one of the hot, up-and-coming coaching prospects in the game. After coaching his hometown Windsor Spitfires, which he co-owns with ex-NHLer Warren Rychel and Peter Dobrich, to back-to-back Memorial Cups, Boughner joined Scott Arniel's coaching staff with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the upcoming season.
With the Jackets, Boughner will be handling the forwards and -- ahem -- the power play.
The guy who used to be known as The Boogeyman is a pretty good example of skill development himself, making the transition from blue collar player to coaching prospect with a bullet.
Boughner had some interesting ideas on the panel about how some minor hockey coaches are mismanaging their most important asset: ice time.
Also on the panel was Dr. Steve Norris, the director of sport physiology and strategic planning at the Canadian Sport Centre for the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
At about $450 an hour in the GTA, ice time is a precious commodity and Boughner said coaches waste too much of it in the numerous practices he sees.
"The way coaches organize practices leaves a lot to be desired," he said. "I think it's like anything else in life. Guys get in a rut. A warm up, a stationary stretch, five to 10 minutes explaining drills, the next thing you know you're down to a half an hour (of ice time).
"Managing the ice time is huge and I think we can do a much better job."
Players should warm up before they go on the ice, Boughner said. Drills should be taught and understood and given a simple name, so when the coach calls them out, players know what to do quickly. Conditioning should also be done to a large extent off-ice, leaving ice time for skill development.
He also thinks -- in keeping with the theme of the day -- that skill development can be incorporated into every aspect of a practice. He said Spitfires star Taylor Hall, the top pick in the NHL draft in Los Angeles, "practises his skill in his warmup." Hall would work on his hands by warming up with stickhandling drills with a road hockey ball. He would do footwork drills to both warm up and improve agility.
Conditioning can also be made part of skill development, as well, said Boughner. He pointed out that 78% of the game is played in small areas and learning how to play in those areas is an acquired skill. The Spitfires would have 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 battle drills at the end of practice. Boughner said some of the players wore heart monitors during practice and results revealed the conditioning benefits of those types of drills were on a par with lining up players on the boards or the lines and just having them skate.
That meant those battle drills were pretty much getting twice the bang for each minute of ice time; playersí skills were being honed and their conditioning improved.
Smart guy, that Boughner.