When the San Jose Sharks acquired forward Jannik Hansen ahead of the trade deadline this week, San Jose Sharks right wing Mikkel Boedker wasn't just looking forward to having a fellow countryman join the roster, but a lifelong friend.
"I've known him my whole life," Boedker said. "It's not often that you get to play with a guy you grew up with."
Living just a short distance down the road from each other as kids in Denmark, Boedker grew up tagging along with his older brother, Mads, and Hansen.
"He's very close with my older brother," Boedker said. "When you're younger, you always want to be part of the group and play the way they played."
While the former Canuck's gritty and hard-nosed style of play will be a welcomed addition to the Sharks lineup and their postseason push, as a kid Boedker had to mature quickly when playing with Hansen and Mads.
"There was definitely no crying," Boedker said. "You had to toughen up when you played with the older boys."
However 30-year-old Hansen didn't just rough-house with the younger Boedker, he's been a mentor for him during his hockey career. Now Boedker's looking forward to having him around - this time, playing alongside each other for Team Teal.
"Jannik has always been there when you needed help around the rink," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun to have him here. He's going to fit in really well."
Especially when the sample size of NHL players from Denmark is so small.
With the acquisition of Hansen, the Sharks now own the second and third all-time NHL point leaders of Danish decent (Boedker - 245, Hansen 235), along with the second and third all-time leaders for NHL games played (Hansen - 565, Boedker 524).
"It's pretty impressive that we're able to have two players from the same little town in Denmark end up playing on the same team," Boedker said. "It definitely says a lot about our upbringing we had and the hockey we learned back in Denmark."
That familiarity has followed the two Danes every step of the way, including their most recent appearance with Team Europe at the World Cup. The two combined for eight games played, as Team Europe fell to Team Canada, 2-1, in the tournament's championship game.
Now that same closeness will help Hansen as he quickly acclimates to the Sharks dressing room for the final two months of the regular season.
"That has a lot to do with it," Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson said. "You're integrating him very quickly and Mikkel and he have played together for a long, long time. I think probably close to 20 years, so that helps."
"It's always easier to ask somebody you know for help instead of a stranger," Hansen added.
But as a Vancouver favorite, after being voted a three-time winner of the Canucks player award for the season's "Unsung Hero," Hansen isn't worried about meshing with the NHL's most fun team.
"There are not a lot of dressing rooms I've walked into where you don't fit in," Hansen said. "Everybody's trying to achieve the same thing."
According to him, the biggest challenges of a trade are the hardships on the family, as they make the move to a new city in San Jose.
"A lot of times, it's for the wife, kids and family," Wilson said. "It's really important to make them feel comfortable too."
However the family atmosphere that the Sharks are so often known for should help ease the transition for Hansen in the coming weeks.
So will Boedker play tour guide once Hansen joins the club?
"Maybe if he wants to," Boedker laughed. "But I think he has to settle in first before we go on any big tours."
After joining separate teams in the NHL, Boedker and Hansen often saw each other as friendly foes on the ice or during offseason training at the same gym in Denmark. But now, the two will be reunited as teammates once again as they chase a Stanley Cup together.