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Jannik Hansen has spent the better part of the last two seasons solidifying his role as a regular with the Vancouver Canucks. After having been in last year's Stanley Cup Finals, he’s now helping out Denmark at the 2012 World Championships in Stockholm after a disappointing first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in this year’s NHL playoffs.
Heading into the tournament, Denmark knew it would need to be very successful to gain home ice advantage in the Olympic Qualifications the next two years in preparation for the next Winter Olympics. Denmark opened the tournament with some fine play against the Czech Republic, but left the ice empty-handed in a 2-0 loss.
Hockey’s Future had a chance to chat with Hansen following the loss to the Czech Republic.
Hockey’s Future: Tough 2-0 loss to the Czechs tonight, but right in the last few minutes of the game when Denmark was really putting on the pressure, you took a two minute penalty for checking from behind (Ed. note: which then led to an additional one game suspension). Was that just the case of a different interpretation of the rules being used by the IIHF?
Jannik Hansen: No, I mean if you hit a guy from behind two feet away from the boards, it’s a penalty in every league. Obviously I wasn’t trying to hurt the guy. I was trying to put up against the glass a little. But he fell awkwardly and I took a penalty, which hurt the team.
HF: In light of the loss today, what do you think of the new modus where you’ll be playing against all eight teams here?
JH: It’s a different situation here now and you’re getting a chance to play the teams you’re truly competing against. You normally play in a group with two elite teams and then that one game you’ve just got to win, where now we’ve got four or five games where we’ve got to play against equal opponents. But again, it’s fun to play against the big nations.
HF: This tournament is very important with respect to the Olympics in Sochi. Is that something that’s weighing heavy on your shoulders?
JH: Of course we want to put ourselves and our team in the best possible situation moving forward. If we put up a good performance here, we’ll have home ice in the qualification round as well as slightly lighter opponents. Everybody in the team is well aware of how important this tournament is.
HF: It’s been a few years since you’ve helped out Team Denmark at the World Championships. There must be seeing a lot of new faces and a lot of younger guys. Are you happy with the compete level of the team?
JH: It’s not necessarily a lot of new faces, it’s just that a lot of the guys have gotten a little older. The last time I was here, there were a lot of teenagers. They have all gotten four or five years older now and that gives us a lot more experience. Now we’ve got a lot more depth in our team and it shows in our game. We’re able to four good lines and create quality opportunities for our team. It bodes well heading forward into the rest of our tournament.