Boedker still blossoming
Boedker still blossoming
Danish star talks WJC, 2018 Worlds, and more
Taken eighth overall in 2008 by the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes, Mikkel Boedker has endured the ups and downs of hockey in the desert.
The 24-year-old left wing began his NHL career in 2008-09 under Wayne Gretzky, who was in his final season as the highest-profile coach in club history. Boedker struggled to become a full-time NHLer, splitting time between the bigs and the AHL in his second and third pro seasons in North America. There was also ongoing uncertainty over whether the Coyotes might move to another market.
But now things are more stable, and that’s been reflected in Boedker’s game. In 2013/14, the Kitchener Rangers graduate set new personal highs in all points categories (19-32-51), playing a full 82-game slate for the second time in his career.
With eight goals and eight assists in 27 games thus far, the swift-skating forward is on pace for similar totals. This season, Boedker leads all Danish NHL scorers, and he and Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen (162 career points apiece) are duelling for second place all-time behind Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders (268).
Still, the Coyotes have struggled recently, getting shut out in back-to-back games, and dropping six straight at home for the first time since 2009. It will be an uphill battle for them to make the playoffs this spring.
A key attacker for the Danish national team, Boedker has suited up at four IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. Back in May in Belarus, the Brondby native helped his nation to a 13th-place finish, coming through with a classy shootout winner in a 4-3 upset over the Czech Republic. It was the first time Denmark had ever beaten the Czechs.Continue reading
IIHF.com caught up with Boedker recently to chat about his international career and get some insight into his interests away from the rink.
What do you remember most about your only top-level World Juniors in the Czech Republic in 2008?
I think having a tight game against Canada. They beat us 4-1, so that was a big memory for us. Obviously, it’s a special time of year for the young guys. They’re battling hard and there are some bright spots, good young talent coming up. It’s huge for the hockey world and it’s fun to watch.
How hard is it for Denmark to compete at the U20 level with a small talent pool to draw on?
It’s not easy. We went out the year I was there. I think we lost every single game. Obviously, it’s big for us when we can be a part of it. We’re kind of in between: some years in the A Pool, some years in the B Pool. We try to be in the A Pool and be role models for young kids coming up. We want more kids to play the game of hockey. So far, I think they’re doing a pretty good job, especially with the senior men’s team. We’ve been in the A Pool for a lot of years now. It’s leading the way for the young guys to love hockey.
How much are you able to keep track of some of the hot Danish prospects coming up, like Nikolaj Ehlers or Oliver Bjorkstrand?
Not very much. I met Nikolaj at the World Championship in Sweden for the first time. Obviously, I’ve been over here for a lot of years, so I haven’t really been able to keep up with those guys. Oliver is playing [with the Portland Winterhawks], and he’s a good player there. It’s hard to keep track. They’re from different towns than I am, and I think Nikolaj grew up in Switzerland. It’s good. The more guys we have, the better.
Denmark has been in the top division since 2003. But apart from making the quarter-finals in 2010, you typically finish 11th, 12th, or 13th. How close is Denmark to becoming, say, a regular top-10 finisher?
I think we’re fairly close. It’s tough because we have a lot of guys taking the step into the NHL and making the teams here, making our careers here. But there’s lots of talent back there. But I don’t know how close we are. I think we play a good game every game. We try to, at least. It’s tough when teams have a lot of talented players. Then we get outmatched a bit. But we do what we can. We’re a hard-working bunch, and that’s the way we grow up.
What do you think about Frederik Andersen establishing himself as the first Danish NHL starting goalie with the Anaheim Ducks?
It’s huge. Frederik is a phenomenal goalie. He’s been standing tall in Anaheim, doing really well. That’s good news for Danish hockey. Obviously, I’m proud of him as a fellow Dane.
How do you fare against him?
I do all right. I have a few tricks. Obviously, we grew up playing against each other. It’s a lot of fun playing in the best league in the world, and getting to play against him and the other Danes. It’s definitely something where you want to beat him.
On a totally unrelated note, your favourite book is The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. Why?
Just the mystery. I think it was fun, a bit different. It got you thinking. It kept you on your toes.
You’ve also cited Denzel Washington as your favourite actor. Is there one movie of his that stands out for you?
There’s a lot of them. The new one, Flight, that was pretty good. Remember the Titans is a solid movie.
Finally, what was your reaction when Denmark was awarded the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Copenhagen and Herning? It’s the first time your country will to get to host.
I think it’s big. It’s fun for people to come and experience Denmark and see what a fun little country it is. Obviously, for the hockey, it’s big to get fans to see some of the biggest stars in the World. Hopefully – well, I shouldn’t say “hopefully” – but hopefully I’m not there because then it means we’re in the playoffs. But obviously it’s a good opportunity for Danish hockey and Danish hockey fans to go and experience top-level talent.
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