can’t help smiling as he takes a moment for some hockey talk, sweat dripping from his brow after another hard day’s work at the Bell Sensplex.
It’s been that way most days lately for the Danish import, who signed a multi-year entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators on June 2 and is getting his first real taste of North American-style hockey at the team’s annual development camp this week.
|Senators prospect Peter Regin is the latest hockey import from Denmark hoping to make his mark on the NHL. |
Then again, Regin’s arrival in Ottawa this week offers further evidence that his biggest hockey dream is drawing a little closer with each passing day.
“It was a great day,” Regin said in recalling the moment he signed his first National Hockey League contract. “It has been a goal of mine since I was drafted in (the third round) in ’04. I’ve always wanted to come over here and especially to Ottawa. So I was very happy that day.
“I’m still happy, but the work starts right now. That’s the way it is, too.”
Regin played the last three seasons for Timra IK in the Swedish Elitserien league but if all goes as planned, his run in Europe will end this fall.
“I want to stay over here,” said the 22-year-old centre. “I don’t want to go back if I don’t make it to the NHL, but we’ll see what happens. You never know. I know it’s going to be tough to make the (Senators roster) this year and I’ll probably start the season in the AHL, but my goal in the future is to play in the NHL. That’s why I came here.”
Senators general manager Bryan Murray has been impressed by what he’s seen at development camp this week from the rangy 6-foot-1, 185-pound Regin.
“He looks like a real player,” said Murray. “He skates, he’s got a great stride, it looks like he’s got real good hands. I haven’t seen him other than on TV or on YouTube as far as playing in competitive situations, but I’m looking forward to that.
“(Regin) looks like a real good prospect.”
If Regin does indeed make his NHL dream come true, it’ll be another big step for a country which doesn’t have much in the way of a hockey pedigree. There are only 4,255 registered hockey players in Denmark, a mere 0.07 per cent of the population.
“(Hockey) is not that big, but it’s getting bigger and bigger,” said Regin. “We’ve got some talent coming up now and you can see it. The last two years, we’ve had first-round picks (in the NHL draft). Last year, Lars Eller went to St. Louis 13th overall and now Mikkel Boedker (eighth overall this year to Phoenix)…. I know that guy and he’s a big, big talent.
“So it’s getting better and better. We won’t have a first-round pick every year but it’s getting better. It’s good for a country where we have only 10 ice rinks.”
Regin has seen half that many in his short stay in Ottawa – Scotiabank Place (where the ice is out for the summer) and four pads at the Sensplex. He hails from Herning, one of the bigger hockey hotbeds in his homeland. It is also the place that spawned New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen, the first Danish citizen to play in the NHL and a player Regin called “my idol when I grew up.”
The Senators prospect is always among those first in line to answer the call to play for his country. Regin has represented Denmark internationally 11 times, including the last four world championships, four world junior championships and three under-18 worlds.
At the 2008 IIHF World Championship in Quebec City, Regin scored the tying goal with 38 seconds left, then added the winner in overtime as Denmark edged Belarus 3-2.
“I always want to play for Denmark,” he said. “It’s my country and I’m proud to be a Dane. So it’s always a big honour to play for Denmark.” Development camp wraps up Monday
The Senators development camp concludes on Monday morning with a 3-on-3 tournament at the Bell Sensplex. Ottawa's prospects will split up into five teams in a round-robin affair, running from 9:45 a.m.-11 a.m. at the Scotiabank rink at the Sensplex.
The event is open to the public, with the first 100 children in attendance receiving a development camp team photo. Visit Sens TV online every day for exclusive video from development camp.