Victor Hedman is one of the most dynamic defensemen in the NHL and was on his way to his second straight All-Star Game when he suffered a lower-body injury two weeks ago. Hedman, who won gold for Sweden in May's World Championships, is still searching for the ultimate prize — a Stanley Cup.
Each of the Lightning All-Stars was asked to discuss his biggest influence, the best and worst moments of his career. Here's Victor Hedman's, in his own words:
My parents and my brothers were my biggest influence when I grew up. My parents drove me everywhere for every practice, every game, and there was always food on the table when I got home. My brothers played hockey, they taught me everything I know. I could wear their gear and go from there.
They were tough on me, though. We were playing a lot at home. They made me tougher. We were in the basement playing indoor hockey and I was always in net, until I started crying. It was pretty tough. But it was all in good fun. I'd be down there again the next day.
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I've had a lot of good memories and good moments. But obviously getting drafted (second overall in 2009) was up there. That whole experience was something you only get to do once. It was very, very special.
The World Championships with Sweden was a really good moment, too. It was something you dream about as a kid, watching the Swedish team play and the celebration when they get home after a tournament. For me to experience that, to go through that, and just the feeling of when Hank (Henrik Lundqvist) makes that last save, you can't really explain. You've got to be there, to be in the game, to know what it feels like.
For me, it was a dream come true to win for our country. I know world championships isn't as big down here, but back home, it's pride when you wear that jersey and everyone is looking and judging you. You make your country proud if you win. To come back and see all those fans, it's just amazing. The feeling you never forget. It's something that you obviously want to do again.
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There has been a lot of adversity, too. When I was younger, I was never really the best player. I was having a tough time with my body. Growing into my body took a little bit of time. There are moments that you thought hockey wasn't your thing. But it comes down to dedication. My body had to take its time to grow.
When you're older, each year is tough. You have friends who are traded. I've — knock on wood — have been pretty lucky so far. The moment that sticks out is losing in the Cup Final. You put in that amount of work to get that close, you're still not over it. I don't know if you ever get over it until you actually win.