Victor Hedman returns to practice, could play Tuesday
Defenseman Victor Hedman returned to practice Monday and felt good, with all indications pointing towards him returning to the lineup Tuesday in Nashville.
Hedman has been sidelined since suffering an apparent head injury Thursday against Dallas, when his head slammed into the boards after a hit by Stars captain Jamie Benn. But Hedman skated Sunday, and wasn't limited Monday, the Lightning encouraged it wasn't worse. Hedman previously had two documented concussion since entering the NHL in 2008.
"It's not the first time it's happened," Hedman said. "I've been here for seven years, I've been through it a couple times before. I know how I feel when I'm normal. It was a bang-bang play. Everything is good. My body feels great."
Hedman Benn's hit was "clean," a shoulder-to-clean check with five minutes left in the second period. Hedman said he had his head down, his eyes on the puck.
"I didn't see him," Hedman said of Benn. "I lost track of the puck, tried to get back in position and I had my eyes down on the ice and didn't see him coming. He's not a dirty player, he's a hard working player, a physical palyer. I admire the way he plays, he finished the check and it was a bang-bang play."
Hedman was attended to by head athletic trainer Tommy Mulligan and went through the concussion protocol. He said while there was some initial concern, he felt okay.
"There was concern," Hedman said. "But at the same time, with the new technology and new helmets, you know you're pretty safe."
While Hedman didn't skate Friday or Saturday, associate coach Rick Bowness said he knew the 6-foot-6 Swede would be fine after looking into his eyes Saturday night.
"You look at those guys who are suffering from concussions, it's sometimes a little bit cloudy in there," Bowness said. "But Victor, his eyes were alive and bright and you figure he'd be back by Tuesday. Fortunately it wasn't that severe."
Hedman skated on his own on Sunday, and the Lightning felt confident enough that it reassigned defenseman Slater Koekkoek back to AHL Syracuse. Tampa Bay knows it will need the Norris Trophy caliber defesneman on this upcoming four-game road trip through Nashville, Winnipeg, Chicago and St. Louis.
"We all know what a big part of our hcokey club he is," Bowness said. "We missed him drastically on Saturday (in a 2-1 win over Buffalo). It's nice we can win games without him, but we certainly need him in our lineup.