Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman will represent his native Sweden in next year’s Winter Olympics.
The Lightning announced Monday that Hedman has been selected to play for Sweden, the first of several Tampa Bay players expected to participate in the Beijing Games in February.
Even though he has represented Sweden several times in international play, this will be the first time Hedman has been selected for the Olympics. He wasn’t selected for the 2014 Games, and in 2018, NHL players did not participate.
Hedman has expressed his desire to represent his home country on the biggest international stage, saying it would be the realization of a lifelong dream.
The NHL had built in a three-week break in the regular-season schedule to allow players to participate.
“This might be the first, it might be my last Olympics and it will be unbelievable to get that opportunity to play in the Olympics and represent my country,” Hedman said two weeks ago. “So I don’t care where in the world it is going to be or at what stage throughout the season. That’s what we’re trained for. It’s what we’re prepared to do mentally.”
Other Lightning players expected to be tapped include Brayden Point (Canada), Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevskiy and Mikhail Sergachev (Russia), Ondrej Palat and Jan Rutta (Czech Republic), Erik Cernak (Slovakia) and Ryan McDonagh (United States).
Captain Steven Stamkos could be picked to play for Canada, which will be coached by the Lightning’s Jon Cooper.
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