When Jannik Hansen walks into the Sharks’ dressing room he’ll see a very familiar face in Mikkel Boedker, as the two Denmark natives have known each other since they were kids.
He’ll also see a whole slew of players that he’s battled with for the better part of a decade while playing in the Pacific Division for the Canucks since the 2007-08 season. That includes Brenden Dillon, who fought the gritty Hansen to a draw on March 7, 2015.
Of course, that’s just part of the business in the NHL, and there won’t be any hard feelings. Those battles with Dillon and the other Sharks veterans didn’t prevent Hansen from putting the Sharks on the list of eight teams that he was reportedly willing to join.
“A lot of the stuff that happens on the ice, you step off the ice and it’s bygones,” Hansen said on a conference call Wednesday morning. “Obviously it’s always weird to walk into a dressing room and [for] the first time you shake hands with a guy that you fought with, but it’s almost normal, I think.”
The drive to win a Stanley Cup far outweighs any awkward feelings of joining a longtime rival. The Sharks have that chance, while the Canucks are seemingly beginning a rebuild. Hansen, who turns 31 late this month, was ready to move on.
“That was a big thing for me, going to a team that has the opportunity [to win],” Hansen said. “San Jose obviously has that. That being said, I also have a lot of knowledge of the team playing against them for a lot of years. I feel like I have a pretty good sense as to how they play.”
On Tuesday night a few Sharks players, including Dillon, spoke about how Hansen is a pest to play against. He’ll finish his checks, try to get underneath the other team’s skin, isn’t afraid to stick his nose in the middle of a post-whistle scrum, and can contribute offensively, too. Hansen has experience playing with Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Vancouver’s top line, and was frequently in the top six.
He’s the type of player whose value tends to increase in the postseason.
“Everything intensifies once playoff roll around,” Hansen said. “Every inch is so important, and you fight for everything. I think that’s just how I’ve always played. It’s how I’ve found that I’m most successful. If I’m not successful, that’s one of the first areas that I tend to look at, is probably not doing the things I’m supposed to. It’s definitely a part of my game, and something you try to bring on a nightly basis.”
Although he’s played just 28 games this season with 13 points (6g, 7a), battling through rib and knee injuries, Hansen had been in Vancouver’s lineup for the past three-and-a-half weeks before he was held out on Tuesday for precautionary reasons.
“I feel like it’s turning a corner here now and have played for almost a month,” he said.
Hansen revealed he will not be available to skate against the Canucks on Thursday at SAP Center due to the paperwork required to work in the United States for the first time, so his debut will have to wait until Sunday in Minnesota, at the earliest.
He’s now in a position, though, to play much later into the spring than had he remained in Vancouver.
“It’s been cut short a little bit, my season here, so to say,” Hansen said. “Hopefully I get to extend it quite a bit now.”