There was a time as a youngster back in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, that Victor Hedman was teased by classmates about the red birthmark on the left side of his face. "But then I became bigger," Hedman said, "and they stopped doing that." Hedman, taken by the Lightning with the No. 2 pick of the draft Friday, is 6 feet 6 inches, 220 pounds of superstar potential. But Saturday, reclining in a chair in a room underneath the Bell Centre stands, the defenseman was like any other 18-year-old, talking about his girlfriend, singing in the shower and learning to fly airplanes. Hedman fretted Tampa Bay might stop him from taking lessons because flying can be dangerous. But general manager Brian Lawton said, "Players are free to do what they want with their free time." Wonder what he thinks of Hedman's preference in books. Q&A, 6C
When did you start playing?
I was 5 when I started with Modo, with the youth team. Modo has always been my team. I was maybe 2 years old when I was skating with the family.
Did your father, Olle, just put a stick in your hand?
We had a rink about 200 yards from my house. My friends and me couldn't do anything but play because the winters are so long. Just skate around for fun, and then it became more serious.
How close is your town to Stockholm?
It's an hour flight north, and Stockholm is in the middle of Sweden.
So, it's cold.
But during the summer it's fantastic. We have sun 24 hours. We have midnight golf. You start playing around 9 p.m., and we play until 6 a.m.
It's not middle-of-the-day sun, right?
No, but it's light. You can see everything.
Does that mess up your sleep?
It does. You wake up early, it's 1 a.m., and you look outside, you say, "It can't be 1 a.m." But it's nice. You stay out late with your friends and have a good time. It's fantastic. We're just on the coast (of the Gulf of Bothnia, an arm of the Baltic Sea). It's lovely. Hopefully in the future, I'm going to build a house and go back during the summer.
Plenty of water in the Tampa Bay area.
Guess I came to the right spot.
Do you play any other sports?
I love soccer. I'm a Manchester United fan.
You know, the owners of the Bucs also own Man U.
Malcolm Glazer. I've done some research. That's pretty cool.
My grandpa was a pilot in the military. He actually crashed once and broke his leg. Maybe that's where it came from. I always loved it and was fascinated by how airplanes are able to fly. You feel free when you're up there. It's great. I want to have my own plane.
A Cessna Citation.
Tacos and pasta.
Best thing you can cook?
Potatoes with carrots and vegetables in the oven with olive oil and garlic and salt and pepper; and chicken with spinach, cream and feta cheese.
Your girlfriend, Sanna, must love that.
Her father is a chef. He worked in a local restaurant, but he had some problems with his back. Now he's just cooking for us. He teaches us a few tricks and some good food that is easy to prepare.
What's the last book you read?
I don't want to say. The last one was Jenna Jameson, How to ... Make Love Like a Porn Star. I read The Dirt about Motley Crue.
Do you play an instrument?
No, but I love to sing in the shower.
Are you a karaoke guy?
I am. I have the SingStar on the video games, but I'm not too good, though. My girlfriend shuts it off.
Will Sanna live with you?
Coming to Tampa. I told her how nice it was, so she's really looking forward to it.