Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman out indefinitely with concussion

Honored in bronze: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, left, and Lightning founder Phil Esposito stand in front of the statue of Esposito that was unveiled outside of the arena before the game.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Honored in bronze: Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, left, and Lightning founder Phil Esposito stand in front of the statue of Esposito that was unveiled outside of the arena before the game.

TAMPA — Lightning D Victor Hedman is out indefinitely with a concussion, GM Steve Yzerman said Saturday.

Hedman, 20, suffered the injury during Tuesday's first period when he hit his head on the boards. He hasn't worked out since, and while his symptoms have gotten better, he said he still doesn't "feel right."

Hedman missed just one game after sustaining a concussion as a rookie in 2009-10, but this one is different, he said.

"This is a new feeling for me; a new type of injury," Hedman said. "And concussions, you have to be careful with. You just have to make sure I'm symptom-free when I get back on the ice."

Yzerman said the injury was the result of a good, clean body check, with Hedman pointing out he was off balance and skating fast. Hedman is second on the team in average ice time and a key penalty killer. But Yzerman said his absence doesn't mean a move is coming.

Evan Oberg, recalled from AHL Norfolk on Thursday, will remain as the seventh defenseman. And Yzerman said others have stepped up.

"We're kind of limited," Yzerman said. "Everybody is getting more ice time, and they're all playing pretty well."

That doesn't make it easier for Hedman to sit out.

"It's, obviously, tough. You have to battle through it," Hedman said. "I just have to stay calm and stay even-keeled."

More Medical Matters: C Nate Thompson (lower body) was scratched for the fifth consecutive game and put on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 17. But Thompson could return as early as Tuesday depending on how his skate goes Monday.

"I want to be more than ready to go instead of coming back too early and putting myself back at square one," he said.

Yzerman said W Ryan Shannon is 2-3 weeks from returning from a sprained right knee.

WITH HONORS: The Lightning, literally, rolled out the red carpet for founder Phil Esposito, unveiling a bronze statue of him in front of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Fans chanted "Thank you, Espo!" as Esposito, joined by friends and family (including brother Tony), addressed the crowd. There was also an in-game video tribute.

"This," Esposito said, "is the icing on the cake."

MILESTONE: RW Marty St. Louis was proud to rack up his 500th assist on C Steven Stamkos' third goal, something Stamkos said he'll remember forever. Fans gave St. Louis an ovation after the milestone was announced.

"When you come into the league, you don't think about that. You just try to find your way," St. Louis said. "And along the way, you reach certain marks. It's flattering, but it's an honor to play in this league."

MISCELLANY: Boucher said RW Steve Downie, who has seven points over his past three games, has been "incredible" in practice and "is getting the results he deserves." … On a night in which the arena was renamed, Times CEO Paul Tash dropped the ceremonial puck and was joined by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman out indefinitely with concussion 12/31/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:05pm]

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