And his teammates loved him for it.
"He's a total team player, he's a very tough guy and he'd always be happy to be the first guy in there to fight for anybody," said Jarome Iginla.
Boughner was by no means a goon. He 630 games in the NHL because he was a reliable depth defenseman and great teammate, first and foremost. He played a very conservative role as a depth defensive blue-liner. He could draw short-term assignments against the other teams top lines, but was more comfortable in the fifth or sixth role.
Boughner provided next to no offense (15 career goals) and was pretty much strictly a chip-it-off-the-glass type of defender. But with his physical exuberance he could set the tone of the game and for his teammates, knowing exactly when to inject needed energy into the game.
Not that anything ever came easy for the big right-handed rearguard. A second draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings back in 1989, Boughner spent five years in the minors before finally getting his shot.
Boughner had captained the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to the 1990-91 OHL championship in his final junior season but Detroit had too many veteran d-men in the early 1990s. Paul Coffey, Doug Crossman, Brad Marsh, Mark Howe and Brad McCrimmon blocked the way for any prospects.
The Wings actually let him walk after three years. He signed with the expansion Florida Panthers but still never got a shot.
Things changed when Ted Nolan, Boughner's coach in Sault Ste. Marie, became the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. Nolan was sure to give his former captain a chance to make the team.
"He called me a few times and told me he was going to try and trade for me and it eventually happened (Feb. 1, 1996) ... That was my huge break. If it wasn't for Teddy, who knows? I could still be down there," said Boughner.
After his Buffalo breakthrough, Boughner was picked up by Nashville in the 1998 expansion draft before moving on to Pittsburgh, then Calgary, Carolina and finally Colorado. He never stayed anywhere too long to get comfortable. But his many teammates always appreciated him on and off the ice.
Boughner returned to junior hockey after hanging up his NHL skates in 2006. He purchased the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL and named himself president and CEO as well as head coach. He turned the Spitfires around remarkably, leading them to back to back Memorial Cup championships in 2009 and 2010, making him one of the top coaching prospects in the game.