Boone Jenner has played in over 100 NHL games and faced a lot of different situations on the ice, but last Thursday, he found himself in a position he’d never been in before – head coach of a hockey team.
Jenner joined teammates David Clarkson and Dalton Prout as celebrity coaches at the 4-on-4 tournament that concluded this year’s Blue Jackets development camp.
“It’s a lot different,” Jenner told BlueJackets.com. “Not being on the ice and being on the bench is a bit different than skating and being out there.”
It took some time for Jenner, who admitted to developing a strategy as the games progressed, to find his comfort level, but the 22-year-old made some adjustments and led his team through two games, two shootouts and a 1-0 win in the championship game to capture the “Stinger Cup.”
While Jenner received congratulations post-tournament and celebrated a “sweet win,” he wasn’t the only one enjoying himself.
Jenner and his fellow coaches are some of the players who’ve been around development camp throughout the week and have filled the role of mentor, team ambassador as well as coach.
Clarkson’s team was eliminated before the championship game, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave the rink at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, instead opting to stay on the bench to take in the talent of the 33 prospects who were playing.
“When I was asked to coach, I said yes right away,” Clarkson said. “It was something I thought would be fun. Losing was hard to swallow but at the end of the day, it was about the experience and getting to watch the talent on the ice. It was fun to watch.”
Clarkson, who said his coaching style included elements from a lot of coaches he’s had, enjoyed getting to know the newest Jackets players and strengthening their connection to the organization. Since returning to Columbus a few days ago, Clarkson spent his mornings shooting on this year’s development camp goaltenders during their practice sessions.
“I was very fortunate to have a bunch of older guys who were good to me when I was coming into the league,” Clarkson said. “I think even just saying hello and helping them feel comfortable is worthwhile because you do get nervous when you’re coming into camp.”
And, as good leaders do, Clarkson finished his assessment of his coaching debut by taking responsibility for the loss while Jenner gave full credit to his players who were able to raise the Stinger Cup at center ice in front of a standing room only crowd.
“It feels pretty good,” Jenner said.