Chris DePierro has been with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League since 2006, and has been involved in coaching since the 1990s. That level of experience has told him players like Boone Jenner
come around only so often, so he knows to appreciate them when he has them.
"The best way I'll describe Boone Jenner
is he's a player," DePierro, the Generals' coach and general manager, told NHL.com. "I use that as a compliment in every way. The way he conducts himself on the ice, off the ice, his character, his ability to play the game -- everything about him is a hockey player."
Jenner had 25 goals and 41 assists in 63 regular-season games for the Generals this past season, and added 7 goals and 5 assists in 10 playoff games. However, the statistics alone aren't the reason Jenner is No. 18 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft.
"He's my favorite guy in the whole draft," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He's the best competitor in this entire draft, bar none. Just fierce. Does everything every night that you like to see to win -- blocking shots, killing penalties, going to the net, he'll fight. He does everything. He's going to need to improve somewhat on his foot speed, but I'm sure that'll come. That won't be what keeps him out of the (NHL)."
One of Jenner's best assets is his ability in the faceoff circle.
"When games are on the line, whether you're protecting a lead or trying to get that goal back, he's on the ice, he's taking that big draw," said DePierro, "and more times than not he's winning that draw."
While some of Jenner's face-off skills come from natural ability and the result of years of practice, a portion of it could be genetic. Jenner's uncle, Bill Carroll, played eight NHL seasons, but won four Stanley Cups -- three with the New York Islanders
(1981-83) and one with the Edmonton Oilers
(1985). Carroll topped out at 9 goals in his best offensive season, but was renowned for his skill in face-off circle.
"On the faceoffs, I take a lot from him," said Jenner. "I try to put his stuff into my game."
"The only thing when we've talked about it is the importance of on faceoffs of making sure your wingers and defensemen know what you're going to do," Carroll told NHL.com. "Most faceoffs aren't won clean, they're won on loose pucks grabbed by the wingers or defensemen. Boone's picked up on that because I see him talking to his wingers and defenseman all the time."
Jenner also has found comfort taking on a leadership role with the Generals. He was made an assistant captain this past season, but DePierro said he knew not long after he selected Jenner with the fourth pick of the 2009 OHL draft that he was getting a special player.
"He's great in the room, a great teammate," said DePierro. "He's a great example, a great leader. Those are the qualities, the intangibles, that are hard to find in 17-year-old kids. He's displayed that right from the get-go as a 16 year old and evolved into the player he is now."
"There's a fine line between saying the right thing and saying something when you shouldn't be talking," said Jenner. "It's all about respect and getting the respect from your teammates and keeping it, for sure. A leader is someone who can keep their respect. Coming into the second year (in the OHL), I knew what to expect from the OHL and I tried to help the young guys come in and play that leadership role and also lead by example through my work ethic."
The leadership role is one Jenner has embraced, including helping new players assimilate to the team. Among them was a pair of highly rated draft prospects from fairly disparate backgrounds -- forward Lucas Lessio
, who joined the Generals after spending last season with a Junior 'A' team, and Danish-born forward Nicklas Jensen
, who played his first season in North America in 2010-11.
"I've always had that leadership in me," said Jenner. "When I came in I just kind of led by example, but as the year went on I think I did get more vocal in the room and stuff like that. In the beginning of the year I helped the guys come in, the rookies, come in and have a smooth transition to the OHL."
It certainly worked for his draft compatriots -- Jensen is No. 21 on Central Scouting's final ranking, while Lessio is No. 46.
"It's been kind of cool how we have bunch of draft-eligible guys on our team," said Jenner. "We can always talk to each other and see what's going on with each other. Me, Lucas and Niklas have gone to Top Prospects Game together (in January) and (the NHL Scouting Combine in May) together, so it's neat."
While leading the Generals into the second round of the OHL playoffs, he also found time to visit his uncle, who lives in nearby Ajax, Ont. Occasionally uncle would tell nephew stories about the dynasty Islanders or having Wayne Gretzky
as a teammate.
"It's pretty special," said Jenner. "Not a lot of people get to win the Stanley Cup and he won it four times. He's pretty blessed and it's cool to have him around. Knowing he won four Stanley Cups, he must have done something right."
Besides enjoying the old stories, Jenner is able to draw motivation for reaching his own career aspirations.
"If you get on the right team at the right time, you can win a Stanley Cup," he said. "That's my goal. I want to be known as a champion, too. And winning a Stanley Cup is what I really want to do in the long run. Him doing that gives me confidence, for sure."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK