Leafs call on former figure skater Barb Underhill to work her magic
TORONTO — The blonde-haired sprite makes it seem so easy as she twirls around on the ice, twisting and turning this way and that, carving perfectly tight circles like some knife-wielding chef.
She looks like a figure skater. And that is what she used to be. But now, Barb Underhill is wearing hockey skates, a pair of oversized gloves, and gripping a stick that has been chopped down to fit her 4-foot-11 proportions.
“It’s Kenny Ryan’s,” she says of the stick. “It was the smallest one I could find.”
The stick is just a prop. There are no pucks on the ice this morning. Just a fresh sheet of ice for Underhill, who was hired in April as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ power skating consultant, to show the new recruits at the organization’s prospect development camp what can be possible with a little belief and a lot of hard work.
It might not happen right away — “This is just a taste, she says — but the skating guru has a history of turning the flat-footed into the sure-footed. All she asks of her students is that they buy in, put in the work and not be afraid to look a bit foolish.