By Dave Vest
Coyotes winger Mikkel Boedker is gladly delaying the start of his off-season so he can participate in the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Championship tournament in Slovakia. The 16-team event begins Friday and runs until May 15.
Boedker, 21, will play for his native Denmark alongside his older brother, Mads, a defenseman. The Boedkers are from Brondby, which is about 10 miles from Copenhagen, the nation’s capital.
“I came a long way this year... and I’m going to have a good summer and prepare (for next season),” Boedker said. “I have an opportunity to go there and play with my brother and play with all the guys I grew up with, so it’s going to be a real fun time.”
This will be Boedker’s second appearance at the IIHF World Championship. In 2009, he notched three goals and one assist in six games for Denmark, which placed 13th. His four points were tied for second-most on his team.
"That was a fun experience for me and I learned a lot from all the guys on the team,” Boedker said. “Playing against the elite players that are in that tournament definitely tests you and helps build your skills and your confidence. I’m vefry excited to do it again this year.”
Denmark will compete in Group D of this year’s World Championship along with Czech Republic, Finland and Latvia. The Danes, who finished an all-time best eighth in the 2010 tournament, will play their first game on Saturday vs. Finland in a preliminary-round match.
"Any time a young player has a chance to play for his country against elite competition, it proves beneficial to the player and his NHL Club," Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney said. "The IIHF championship is a world class event and Mikkel will be relied upon to be their best player and team leader. It will be a great way for Mikkel to finish his season as he will be counted on to be an important player for us next season."
Boedker split time between the Coyotes and San Antonio (AHL) in 2010-11. In 36 games with San Antonio, he notched 12 goals and 22 assists and was plus-11. In 34 games with the Coyotes, he produced four goals and 10 assists and was plus-11. He set a career-high four-game point streak in games played from Feb. 22 to Feb. 27.
Boedker’s evolution into an NHL player this season impressed the team’s coaches and management, so much so that General Manager Don Maloney felt comfortable trading winger Scottie Upshall just before the trade deadline because Boedker was waiting in the wings for more ice time.
Boedker isn’t the only Coyotes player who will participate in this year’s IIHF World Championship. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and center Andy Miele also will be there representing Sweden and the United States, respectively.
Click here to listen to an interview with Boedker