Mikkel Boedker has skated in 618 games over 9 seasons in the NHL but after being acquired by the Ottawa Senators on June 19th, the veteran winger couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic.
"It goes by quick," he said. "When people say it, I think you tend to kind of disregard it because 10 years can't go by that quickly but when you sit back and think about how you've grown and everything you've experienced over the past 10 years...it really does go by fast."
Boedker was selected 8th overall on June 20th, 2008 by the then Phoenix Coyotes at the NHL Draft in Ottawa and now, nearly ten years to the day, he has found himself back in the city where his National Hockey League dream was realized but this time as a member of the home team.
"I don't remember much about my Draft week in Ottawa to be honest," he said. "I was just so excited and nervous that I didn't really spend a lot of time checking out the city."
"It's going to be a lot of fun to come back to the place where my NHL dream really started and now to put on a Senators jersey," Boedker continued. "I'm excited to be a part of the community and the capital of Canada."
Despite spending the entirety of his NHL career south of the border, Boedker is no stranger to playing in Canada. In 2007, he made the decision to join the Kitchener Rangers and while his Draft experience may have been a bit of a blur, Boedker has many fond memories of his time in the OHL.
"It's an experience to be able to play in the country where everybody is crazy for hockey," he said. "In Canada, everybody talks hockey, everybody loves hockey and almost everybody plays hockey. When the fans love the game as much as the players do, it really takes it to a different level. I'm excited to be a part of that again."
While his move to the Senators marks his first opportunity to play as a member of a Canadian team in the NHL, he'll also be moving to an entirely different conference for the first time in his career.
Boedker has spent the previous 9 seasons in the NHL's Western Conference with stints in Phoenix, Colorado and San Jose and as a result hasn't made many road trips to Ottawa over that span. But, for whatever reason, he's excelled in Canadian Tire Centre recording 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists) in 5 games as a member of the visiting squad.
"I've always felt comfortable in that rink so hopefully that leads to the same level of comfort now that I'll be playing there for 41 games a season," he shared. "The atmosphere is great and the fans really understand the game. It's going to be fun to experience that every day and the culture of hockey in Canada."
During our lengthy phone conversation, I also brought up his hat tricks (yes, plural) against the Senators that occurred about a month a part back in the fall of 2015 as a member of the Coyotes.
"I actually have two plaques up in my home where I have the three pucks from those hat tricks and I was just looking at them before you called," joked Boedker. "It's actually kind of funny now that I'm a part of the Senators."
Don't let the trips down memory lane fool you though. Boedker is focused on the task at hand.
He's currently in the midst of his off-season training at Team Denmark, a facility that houses all of Denmark's national teams, where he's working alongside the country's top athletes in preparation for his debut with the Senators this fall.
"I'm just another piece to the puzzle hopefully," said Boedker. "Last year, we could all see in the standings that it wasn't the result that Ottawa was hoping for. For me, it's a new season and that means that this year can go in the right direction and I hope to be a big part of that."
"I was drafted in Ottawa so I think it's pretty cool to come back to that rink and to where my NHL dream got started," he continued. "Now I want to make sure that I do my part this year so that the Senator can be successful and have a good season."