Danish captain in 18th straight Worlds
But in all that time he hasn’t done what he did last night in the Denmark-Russia game—shake hands, captain to captain, with his idol, Pavel Datsyuk.
“That was a nice moment,” Green said wistfully after the game, happy to relive the moment despite the lop-sided score of the game. “He was always an important player to me.”
The fact that both players wear number 13 is coincidence, but for Green it’s a happy one given his admiration for the Russian forward, who suggested he has finished his career in the NHL and will play in the KHL for the upcoming season.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Green continued. “I like the way he plays at both ends of the ice. He’s been doing that his whole career. He plays well on offence and defence, and that’s what you want. He’s the best.”
Green, a forward from Horsholm, is at that stage of his career when he isn’t planning too far ahead. An important part of the team, he wants to make sure he’s representing his country for the right reasons, this year or next or never again.
“I’ll take it one year at a time,” he continued. “The first thing is, the coach has to want me to play, which is why I’m here this year. The second thing is that I have to feel my body is okay and I can contribute to the team. If that’s good, I’ll be here. We’ll see what happens.”
Despite these words, though, he must surely be thinking two years away, when Copenhagen and Herning host the Worlds in 2018 for the first time. “Not really,” he insists. “That’s too far ahead. I’m not getting younger, so it’s one year at a time!”
If this is it for Green, there is definitely one memory that stands out among the rest. “The highlight was when we won Division I and we qualified for the top division in 2003,” he enthuses. “It was our first time in decades. It was a huge moment for me. We had a young team back then. A lot of my very best friends played on that team, so it’s a nice memory.”
Coming up to the top division is one thing, but staying in quite another. Many countries are in between the two levels, earning promotion one year, being demoted soon after. Not the Danes. They came up in 2003 and, to the surprise of many, have been here ever since.
“The Danish program is really good,” Green explained. “This year, for instance, we had both the under-18 and under-20 teams in the top pool, which is only ten teams. That’s huge for Danish hockey. Then, we’ve been developing the next generation of players really well. There’s me and only one other guy from that team in 2003 here this year, so we’ve been able to survive. Some years, it’s been really tough, but the main thing is we’ve handled the pressure well.”
Green might be on the team in 2017—he might not—but he’s pretty certain he’d like to stay in the game after he hangs up his skates.
“Of course, I’d like to work in hockey when I’m done playing. I’ve been playing so long, and hockey isn’t that big in Denmark. We’ll see.”
For now, though, it’s the present that counts. Moscow, 2016. The team is in a dog fight again. Currently in sixth spot with four points, the Danes have vital games coming up against Latvia and Kazakhstan which will go a long way to determine their status for 2017. With Green or without.
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