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2017-2018 Season




MIKKEL BOEDKER: SHARKSí GREAT DANE STRIVES FOR SUCCESSFUL SEASON


By Paul Freeman [October 2017 Interview]

Mikkel Boedker

Denmark may be better known for Hans Christian Andersen, Tivoli Gardens, butter cookies and LEGO than for hockey. But that could be changing.

In the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, winger Mikkel Boedker [BÝdker] was selected eight overall by the Coyotes, making him the highest-drafted Danish player ever.

Boedker was born and raised in BrÝndby, Denmark. As a youth, he played for the highly regarded RÝdovre SIK Danish club. At 15, Boedker moved to Sweden to face stronger competition, playing for FrŲlundaís junior team. There he won the national junior championships and made his debut with the menís team in the Swedish Elite League.

The following season, 2007-08, he played for the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League. He dazzled in both regular season and playoffs, which led to his lofty draft status.

Entering the NHL, Boedker notched his first goal against the Ducksí Jean-Sťbastien GiguŤre in 2008. He played in the NHLís YoungStars game at the 2009 All-Star weekend in Montreal.

He was featured on the cover of the NHL 10 video game in Denmark and Norway. After several successful seasons in Arizona, Boedker had a brief stopover in Colorado, before becoming a UFA. On July 1, 2016, he signed a four-year contract with the San Jose Sharks.

Internationally, the highly skilled Boedker has played in both the World Juniors and the World Championships for his native Denmark.

Check out our Mikkel Boedker Photo Gallery.

TOP SHELF:
You must be excited about the new season. Are you hoping to build on last year, your first with the Sharks?

MIKKEL BOEDKER:
Yes, Iím very excited. Now weíre starting fresh and I think this year is going to be good, now that Iím accustomed to the style we play and the way we do things around here. And I think itís going to be good with a new year and a clean slate and we get ready from the get-go.

TOP SHELF:
You had an opportunity to skate with Patrick Marleau last year ó what impressed you most about him as a hockey player and as a human being?

BOEDKER:
Oh, I think his consistency in his level of play on the ice. Heís been doing it for so many years and heís just as consistent as he was when he started. So thatís been really one thing that you take away from the year I had with Patty Marleau. And off the ice, heís a tremendous guy. Heís a really nice guy. He takes care of everybody. And he was a pleasure to play with.

TOP SHELF:
What are the reasons for optimism about the Sharks this year? Why do you think they will have a strong season?

BOEDKER:
I think we have a lot of guys that have something to prove. And that combination of players we have, I think itís really good. Everybodyís hungry to do really well. And everybodyís hungry to get out there and show what is needed for us to be successful. And I think thatís really, really important.

TOP SHELF:
Do you set personal goals for yourself, as well as goals for the team?

BOEDKER:
I set personal goals. Obviously I want to improve and do better and perform at a higher level. And I think those goals are important for me to have for myself, so I can achieve those goals. And I think itís important for us as a team to have team goals, which we obviously do. And itís all about winning for this organization and this team. So thatís where our mindset is. I think weíre on a good path.

TOP SHELF:
Growing up in Denmark, what drew you to ice hockey?

BOEDKER:
My dad had a friend who had just put his son in hockey and I think he took us ice skating. And once we ice skated, we started following the sport and the older we got, the more we kind of figured out we had a talent for it and that was something that drove us. And you figure out that youíre kind of good at it, you keep on wanting to do it. And I think thatís where it was for me. It was a fun thing. It was what my friends were doing. And for me, itís the best sport in the world, so I think I just fell in love with it, which I still am today.

TOP SHELF:
For you, what was it about the game that made it the best sport in the world?

BOEDKER:
I think itís fast and physical. And it has a lot of different aspects. Itís a team game, which is important. And I just loved the game itself. As I said, itís the best game in the world. So just that ó a combination of a lot of things. And when youíre young, you just want to get out and have fun with your friends. And I was able to do that through hockey. And yeah, I still am today.

TOP SHELF:
In Denmark, is hockey hugely popular? Is soccer the big game?

BOEDKER:
Soccer is big, yeah. Soccer and handball are obviously the big sports. But hockey is an underrated sport. I think everybody in Denmark, when youíre a young kid and you have a hockey rink, you go skating on the weekends, you try it out. And yeah, hopefully we can get some more players. I think Denmark is improving in that area. And I think Denmark is getting better as a hockey country, which is important for the game to grow, in a little country like that.

And obviously we have Sweden right beside us, where itís a very big sport. So coming from there, it hasnít been that big of a challenge, obviously, because at the time I played, you just wanted to get out and play and we were fortunate enough to play in Sweden a lot. So I think being next to Sweden, where hockey has aways been big, the Swedes help the Danes make hockey a big sport in Denmark.

TOP SHELF:
Did you have much exposure to the NHL, growing up? Were games broadcast in Denmark?

BOEDKER:
No, we didnít really watch NHL growing up. We had hockey cards. And then we watched obviously the menís league in Denmark and the Swedish Elite League. MalmŲ was a team that was close to where Iím from. Itís about half an hour drive, over the bridge. At that time, the bridge wasnít there, so we had to take the boat. But it was real close. And, as I said, hockey was really good in Sweden. So our idols were in the Swedish Elite League and the menís league in Denmark. So we learned the NHL through hockey cardsÖ and obviously, the Playstation game.

TOP SHELF:
So did you have any NHL heroes?

BOEDKER:
I did. I always admired Teemu Selanne. Yeah, when we were about ó I canít remember how old we were, nine or 10, I think ó they came to play a charity game in Denmark. Teemu Selanne, Jari Kurri and Saku Koivu came to play a charity tournament. There were five kids who got to play a couple of shifts against them. We got to take photos with them after the game. So I always kind of had Teemu as an idol and as a guy that was really, really good at hockey and a guy who you kind wanted to be like, when you grew up. So I think it was fun for me, when I got to play against him, when I made it into the league.

TOP SHELF:
Did you dream of playing in the NHL? Or did that seem too unlikely, coming from Denmark?

BOEDKER:
Oh, when youíre young, you have big dreams. And I dreamt about playing in it, as every hockey kid should do. Itís the biggest league in the world in hockey and I dreamt about playing in it. But when youíre young, you just go to the rink with a big smile on your face and youíre with your buddies. And I think once the dream became reality, you think back and you think, ďWow, I really did dream about this.Ē And once your dream becomes a reality, you set new dreams for yourself.

TOP SHELF:
Moving to Sweden, was that a huge step in your development?

BOEDKER:
Oh, yeah. It was very big. It was a step I felt I needed to take at that point in my career. I really wanted to go to Sweden and see what that was all about. It was all about school and hockey and there were so many talented players I played with. So those two years I had in Sweden, I had to grow up and I had to learn the game at a higher level. And I think that obviously was a good decision and was the right decision for me.

TOP SHELF:
And then going to Kitchener, how big an adjustment was that on and off the ice?

BOEDKER:
It wasnít a massive adjustment, I donít think. Again, it was one of those things I really wanted to do. I was really determined to go and try out the Canadian junior league and see what that was all about. It was a good step for me. It was my draft year and I was playing good hockey and I was still developing. And I think it was an important step for me to take to keep developing.

And I was fortunate to go to Kitchener, which is a really, really good organization, in the junior aspect. And I was able to learn from Pete [DeBoer] and Spotter [Steve Spott], who are the coaches I have today [with the Sharks]. So one of the best moments in my hockey career was going to Kitchener and experiencing that. I think it definitely helped me become an NHL player today.

TOP SHELF:
And reuniting with those coaches here in San Jose, that must be a comfortable situation.

BOEDKER:
Yeah, definitely. Youíve got to find your comfort zone. And I think my comfort zone is high with them. And I think itís one of those things where youíve got to make them proud, too, because they take a chance on bringing you in here, and youíve got to prove that youíre worth their hard work and their time. And obviously youíve got to prove to yourself that youíre capable of playing in this league, night in and night out.

TOP SHELF:
And then being drafted eighth overall, that must have been a great validation, a great honor.

BOEDKER:
Definitely. I think that your emotions are high. Youíre excited for what the future holds. You donít know what the future holds. And when they called my name at eight, it was a cool moment with my mom and dad. I got to share it with them. Theyíve always been hard-working and always been helping me in my life of hockey. So sharing it with them was really huge and a proud moment for me.

TOP SHELF:
And then later on, being on the cover of the NHL 10 game in Denmark, that must have been another proud moment, especially having played the video games, as a kid.

BOEDKER:
Oh, yeah, that was a really cool thing. I was fortunate enough to be on the cover there. That was a really cool thing. Like my cousin still has the game and when I come and visit them, we still look at it and laugh at it. It was such a cool experience and a cool moment.

TOP SHELF:
You had some great years in Arizona. Was it difficult with the unsettled situation there, with the arena problems and talk of relocation all the time?

BOEDKER:
I donít think it was so difficult. But most of the questions from the journalists and everybody were about whatís going to happen with the team. But as a player, you just focus so much on playing your game and improving and helping the team win. And I think everybody in Arizona made the best of that situation. And we had some really good years there. For me personally, it was a good place to play. I got to play a lot. I got to learn the game, the NHL game. And in coming to the Sharks, I feel like Iím taking another step in my career. And now itís all about winning. And here with the Sharks, itís a fun time to be a Shark. And Iím really excited about this season.

TOP SHELF:
Playing with Shane Doan, was he an inspiring leader over those years?

BOEDKER:
Oh, yeah, definitely. I mean, every time you read about Shane Doan, everybody says heís the nicest guy, which he is. And he helped me a lot. And heís helped everybody whoís gone through that organization. So we all owe a lot of big thank-youís for what heís done for us personally, but also for what heís done for the hockey in Arizona. Heís definitely a guy that you can lean up against. And today, I still talk to him once in a while, but Iím sure, if I have issues or anything, I can always call him up. Thatís the guy he is. So he definitely also means a great deal to where I am today.

TOP SHELF:
And Oliver Ekman-Larsson, didn't you share an apartment or a house while you were there?

BOEDKER:
Yeah, we shared a house, being close friends. He bought a house and he felt like it was too big to live in by himself and so I was lucky enough to get the call and got to stay with him. And living with your best friend is always fun. We could lean on each other and help each other out. Just growing that friendship that we still have today. It's important to have close friends. And he's definitely one of my closest friends. So just sharing those years with him was great fun.

TOP SHELF:
And 2012, having consecutive overtime game winners in the playoffs against the Hawks, was that the biggest career thrill so far?

BOEDKER:
[Laughs] I think so. When you say it, it brings a smile to my face. It was two big goals at two big moments. And it was a lot of fun. That whole playoff ride in Arizona was a lot of fun. And that experience and that excitement that was there is something you can bring with you to future playoffs. And I think those two goals helped me to realize that I was capable of being a good player and it just brings up good memories, when you talk about them.

TOP SHELF:
And then, on the other side of the ledger, that spleen injury [had to have his damaged spleen removed following a hit in a 2015 game against the Jets], was that tough to overcome, not only physically, but mentally?

BOEDKER:
No, when youíre injured with something like that, you donít realize the magnitude of the injury, really. I think you just want to get back as quick as you can and the mindset is to just get on your feet and get back rehabbing and get ready. And the strength and conditioning coach in Arizona, JP Major, was really, really helpful. He really got me straightened up after that. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of hours in the gym. And now I donít really think about it anymore, other than the scar I have. But yeah, it was a weird injury, but it was nothing that was going to stop me from coming back. And I think it was an experience that you go through so next time you know what things you have to do, if you ever get injured again.

TOP SHELF:
And then, as a UFA, you touched on this before, but the decision to sign with the Sharks, was it partly the coaching staff and partly the opportunity to win that drew you here?

BOEDKER:
I think so, yeah. The coaching staff had a big thing to do with it. And also the players that are here. And an opportunity to win ó you always strive to win in this business and in your life, you always strive to win. And for me, itís a good situation for me to be here and to be part of this team and this organization. You have to take a lot of pride in that. Youíve got to remember that itís an honor to play in this league and it was a fun time to be a free agent, to really see what was out there. And I felt, for me, that San Jose was the best fit and hopefully, I can prove it this year, that it was.

TOP SHELF:
And then, with San Jose adding Jannik Hansen last season, it must be pretty cool to have a fellow Dane as a Sharks teammate.

BOEDKER:
Yeah, that was cool. Itís cool to be from the towns next to each other and to play on the same NHL team. Itís a lot of fun. Itís one of those things where you realize that when you start speaking Danish in the locker room that Danish hockey has come a long way. And I think me and Jannik, we have fun with it. I have known him my whole life, so itís a lot of fun to have a guy like Jannik be a part of the Sharks.

TOP SHELF:
Are you married now?

BOEDKER:
Yeah, Iím married, yeah.

TOP SHELF:
Is your wife from Denmark or the States?

BOEDKER:
My wife is from Denmark.

TOP SHELF:
And what does it mean to you, when you get to play internationally, for Denmark?

BOEDKER:
Oh, thatís always an honor. Itís always an honor to put on your national team jersey. And itís always an honor to put on your sweater for a country. You want to make your country proud. And you want to prove that what theyíve been doing for hockey and so forth, itís been working. And we are always real proud to put on the Danish sweater when we get a chance.

TOP SHELF:
So would the ultimate achievement be to take the Stanley Cup back to Denmark?

BOEDKER:
Yeah, I think thatís one of the things you dream about. I think winning the Stanley Cup, itís the hardest trophy to win in any sport. And when you see the guys who have won it, you want to go through that. And you strive to win in this league. And, as I said, you strive to win in every aspect of life.

And winning the Stanley Cup would mean a great deal, not only to the organization, to prove that weíre capable of doing it, but also on a personal level, it means that youíre a winner and that youíll be a Stanley Cup champion. Itís a huge dream and itís something that we strive to accomplish. And hopefully we can do that.




   
 



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