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Lightning’s Victor Hedman talks knee injury, Stanley Cup run in TSN interview

The Norris Trophy finalist also has an ultimatum of sorts for the Cup traveling to Sweden.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman thought this year's boat parade and championship celebration had a bigger turnout than in 2020.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman thought this year's boat parade and championship celebration had a bigger turnout than in 2020. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jul. 16

Victor Hedman is in rest and recovery mode.

The Lightning defenseman, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus Tuesday, has some time on his hands before his travel plans to return home to Sweden kick in.

Fresh off the team’s second straight Stanley Cup win and boat parade celebrations, Hedman hopped on a podcast with TSN’s Ray Ferraro and Darren Dreger on Thursday to talk about his recovery from and winning the Cup at home, among other topics.

Here are four highlights from his interview:

No need to risk regular-season surgery

Hedman, who had been battling a knee injury since March 30, played 19 additional regular-season games before the team’s 23-game Stanley Cup run.

The Norris Trophy finalist said surgery “went well” and he “feels better each day.” And the plan is to be ready for training camp this fall.

Hedman said he probably could have done the procedure during the season, but not knowing exactly what doctors would find when they opened him up was too big of a risk. So Hedman played through it.

“I had to find a little bit of a different way to play my game,” he said. “I couldn’t be as aggressive as I wanted but I still found a way to be effective.”

But it was the idea that this will be the last time this exact group can win a Stanley Cup together that kept Hedman and other injured players (like Ryan McDonagh, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov) going.

“It’s tough in the salary cap era to keep everyone and we know that,” Hedman said. “That was kind of our mindset going in, kind of like the last dance with all of the guys and for us to try and keep the core and bringing in guys that can help us win, that’s our mindset going forward. We’re not here to be satisfied ... we want to win, again.”

Winning at home was “very special”

Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman has hoisted the Cup two straight seasons now.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman has hoisted the Cup two straight seasons now. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Hedman said to win the Cup on home ice in a tight game with friends and family filling the stands was “unimaginable.”

“It was something you never thought you’d be able to experience,” Hedman said. “That was very much a dream come true.”

He said both Cup runs were challenging, but he thought everyone benefited from the lack of travel time last year (having to only move between Toronto and Edmonton for the final two rounds).

“It’s not an easy Stanley Cup to win,” he said. “I’ve been in this league for a long time and it’s taken a lot of ups and downs to get to this point, so to be able to do it back-to-back, it leaves you speechless when you think about it.”

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A travel demand

Hedman is excited to return home to Sweden, where he hasn’t been since the rebooted training camp ahead of last year’s playoffs.

“A year is a long time,” Hedman said. “I’m very about Sweden, especially this time of the year.”

Hedman added that a lot has changed since the last time he was home — two Stanley Cups and his first child (a son born in October).

“I’m looking forward to coming back home and celebrating this with them,” he said.

As for taking the Cup to Sweden, Hedman has already set his demand: “I’m not coming back (to Tampa) until I get the Cup back home.”

The boat parade “blew us out of the water”

Boats make their way up the Hillsborough River during a boat parade celebrating the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup victory Monday, July 12, 2021 in Tampa.
Boats make their way up the Hillsborough River during a boat parade celebrating the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup victory Monday, July 12, 2021 in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Hedman didn’t know so many boats could fill the water of the Hillsborough River until he saw Monday’s boat parade celebration. He estimated more boats — and people — came out this year.

One of the most memorable moments for Hedman was when the boat parade came into downtown Tampa by the convention center.

“The sights were unbelievable,” he said. “And it just goes to show about the Tampa community and how they really care about us. We’ve been spoiled the last year with three professional trophies (Bucs won the Super Bowl as well), but the boat parades are out of this world.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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