ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Winnipeg Jets forward Marko Dano likes the approach coach Zdeno Ciger is bringing to Slovakia at the 2016 IIHF World Championship.
"He was a successful hockey player, so he knows how we're feeling out there," Dano said after practice Friday. "It's pretty good for us [he knows] how it feels on the ice. It's a little different because he can see the things on the ice in a different way than a coach that never played on that level, like him."
Ciger was part of the first wave of Eastern Europeans to join the NHL, scoring 94 goals and 228 points in 352 games between 1990-2002. His best season came with the Edmonton Oilers in 1995-96, when he was second in team scoring with 70 points (31 goals, 39 assists).
Ciger, a left wing, also played for Slovakia in six World Championships and at the 1988 Winter Olympics. One of his teammates was Dano's father, Jozef, a forward who enjoyed a long European hockey career.
"They played together, it's pretty funny," Marko Dano said. "I can't remember that. He knew me as a little kid."
Dano and Slovakia are fighting for a chance to finish among the top four teams in Group B in St. Petersburg and advance to this year's World Championship medal round.
"We lost a couple of games, so it's not the best scenario for us," Dano said.
Slovakia, which lost 5-0 against Canada on Saturday, is one point behind Germany in fifth place in Group B.
"The chances are there every time," Dano said. "It's just about us -- how we're going to get ready for the game and how we're going to compete and how we're going to execute. We've just got to play our best game and we'll see what's going to happen."
Dano, 21, was selected in the first round (No. 27) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2013 NHL Draft. He played part of two seasons with the Blue Jackets before being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. He then played 13 games with the Blackhawks before he was traded to the Jets for Andrew Ladd prior to the NHL Trade Deadline in February.
Dano had four goals and four assists in 21 games with the Jets this season.
Dano has one assist in the tournament so far. He was injured during the second period of Slovakia's 5-1 win against France on May 8 and missed a 5-1 loss to Germany two days later before returning in a 4-2 loss to Belarus on Wednesday.
This year's tournament is the third World Championship for the 21-year-old center. After scoring four goals and nine points during a standout performance at the 2013 World Junior Championship, Dano had a goal and an assist at the men's tournament later that spring. In 2015, he scored one goal in five games before his tournament was cut short due to a partially torn MCL in his right knee.
Including Dano, Slovakia's 2016 World Championship roster includes four NHL players: defensemen Martin Marincin (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Andrej Sekera (Edmonton Oilers), and forward Tomas Jurco (Detroit Red Wings).
Along with Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins), Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks), Tomas Tatar (Red Wings) and Jaroslav Halak (New York Islanders), Sekera is one of five Slovaks named to the preliminary roster of Team Europe for the World Cup of Hockey, which begins Sept. 17 in Toronto.
"[Sekera] is a great leader and you can see it on the ice and off the ice," Dano said. "He's a great player and we're happy to have him here."
Team Europe's general manager for the World Cup is Slovak legend Miroslav Satan, but Dano sounded uncertain when asked about his chances of hearing his name added to the World Cup team when the final roster announcement is made May 27.
"It's hard to say because there are so many good players on the different teams," he said. "I don't know. I'm just going to try, do my best and see how it goes."
Before joining the NHL, Dano spent two seasons playing for Bratislava Slovan of the Kontinental Hockey League.
"I played [in St. Petersburg] once but I didn't get a chance to see the city," he said. "[Thursday] we had a day off so, we went on the boat tour around the city. It was pretty cool, and it was nice weather outside, so finally I got to see a little bit of the culture and the history of the city."