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Regin putting Denmark on NHL map

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators forward Peter Regin is one of five Danes to see action in the NHL this season (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images).

Think of countries with a strong hockey pedigree and Denmark doesn’t exactly spring first to mind.

But thanks to the presence of players such as Ottawa Senators forward Peter Regin, the European nation is making more of an impact in the National Hockey League. Regin is one of five Danes to find their way onto an NHL roster this season, joining Frans Nielsen (New York Islanders), Mikkel Boedker (Phoenix Coyotes), Jannik Hansen (Vancouver Canucks) and Lars Eller (St. Louis Blues).

A third-round pick (87th overall) by the Senators in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Regin spent three seasons with Timra IK of the Swedish Elitserien (Elite League) before making the move to North America. After a 2008-09 campaign spent mainly with the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League, the native of Herning, Denmark, has settled into a regular role in Ottawa.

Regin took some time out to talk about hockey in his homeland and his current hockey home.

Q: How does someone from Denmark get started into hockey?

A: It goes back to Frans Nielsen. It’s always about him. My dad and Frans’ dad are best friends. He started playing and Frans’ younger brother is my age, so we were best friends, too. We started playing when we were younger. And my mom was a figure skater and she taught me how to skate. That’s how it all started.

Q: Was hockey always your favourite sport?

A: Since I started playing, I always enjoyed skating and playing with the puck and having fun out there. I played soccer, too, and tennis and golf. Growing up, I played a lot of sports, but hockey was always my No. 1 choice.

Q: How did you enjoy the experience of playing in Sweden?

A: It was three great years and I really liked it there. I had some good years for my development and I had some good years outside the rink as well. I met my girlfriend there and she taught me a little bit of the language and now I’m speaking it pretty well, I think.

Q: What has been the biggest adjustment for you in terms of living in North America?

A: I’m only here during the season and during the season, you’re focusing on hockey all the time because you’re playing all the time. But I like it here and I like the lifestyle as a hockey player. And I like the people here. Everybody is nice and wants to help you out, and I’m really enjoying my time here.

Q: How much more popular is the NHL getting in Denmark?

A: It’s getting bigger. I think in a few years, it’ll be a bigger sport in Denmark but right now, it’s not the biggest one. Hopefully, it’ll keep growing.

Q: How much has the presence of Danish players like yourself in the NHL helped in that way?

A: They’re showing more games on TV in Denmark now because of the players who are playing here. There are five or six guys who are playing here in the NHL and that’s pretty good for a country with 10 rinks, I’d say. So they’re starting to show more NHL games back home now.

Q: You’ve played for Denmark five times at the world hockey championship. How much do you enjoy that?

A: We don't have too many players and mostly it's the same guys (at the worlds). We're all good friends and we've played together for many years. Coming home at the end of the year and playing for the national team is always fun. Whenever I have the chance, I will play for Denmark.

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