During the offseason, tampabaylightning.com will talk to Lightning players to get their first-hand account of a moment from the 2017-18 season, an update on their summer or just what's on their mind currently.
On June 20, 2018, Victor Hedman became the first player in Lightning history to win the Norris Trophy, beating out Los Angeles' Drew Doughty and Nashville's P.K. Subban for the award given to the best defenseman in the NHL at the League's postseason award show. As told to tampabaylightning.com beat writer Bryan Burns, Hedman describes what his week in Las Vegas was like, what went through his head when he heard his name called and how he celebrated after. Hedman also graciously describes the rest of his summer back home in Sweden as well as a recent vacation to Italy and his timetable for returning to Tampa to get started for the 2018-19 season.
"After the season ended, it was a quick turnaround back home. We went to Sweden for a few weeks and then came back to the States for the awards. I got into Vegas three days before the actual awards show. My parents and my wife were with me. My wife was with me when I was nominated for the award in 2017 too. She's been there twice. I brought my parents this time too. I guess they were the good luck charm. One of my best friends was there. He lives in Los Angeles, so he came over. My agent was there. Danny and Hank (Daniel and Henrik Sedin) from the same hometown [Ornskoldsvik, Sweden], I had a couple of dinners with them. I pretty much just relaxed and got ready for the awards, nothing too crazy to be honest with you. It was pretty low key. There were a lot of people I knew there, and I was just trying to spend some time with my friends and family, go out to some good dinners and have a nice time. We had a blast. It was fun to bring my parents this time, and being there once before, you kind of know the drill, how it's going to be.
I thought I had a decent chance to win the award. You know you're there for a reason. One of three guys there is winning it. Going into this year, you never know. You try to play your best hockey throughout the year, and to get recognized as one of the top three defensemen of the season is a big honor. Just to be there is very special. Obviously, a lot more fun this year being able to win the trophy. It was a great honor. To be the first guy in Lightning history to win it is very special to me. I'm the third Swede [joining Erik Karlsson and Nicklas Lidstrom], so I'm in some great company and it's something I'm very proud of and something that really hasn't sunken in yet. It's still pretty surreal I came away winning the trophy.
Video: Victor Hedman is awarded the Norris Trophy
I had a speech ready to go in case I won. You try and have some thought put into it, mostly the same day to be honest with you. I'm not a great speaker. I get pretty nervous when I talk in front of big crowds. It's out of my comfort zone. It's one thing to speak in a locker room or talk with the media, stuff like that. But to give a speech in front of a large group of people is a totally different thing. I had to have something ready. The only problem was I couldn't reach my notes in my pocket when I got the trophy, so I just had to try to remember some of the things I had written down or some of the things I thought about beforehand. I think I did a pretty good job, didn't leave too many people out. I forgot to mention a few people, but that stuff happens too when you're on the stage in front of a whole crowd. You tend to forget some things. I had to rewatch my speech even though I didn't want to. I rewatched it, and it sounded pretty good. I think I overcame a lot of self-doubt I had beforehand. I think I'll be more comfortable speaking in the future. It was just a surreal experience. And then Danny and Hank winning (the King Clancy Trophy for leadership and humanitarian efforts) right after me too -- three guys from the same hometown in Vegas and at the awards for the best league in hockey -- was very special. The whole experience was very cool and it's something that really hasn't sunken in yet. I don't know if it will until the day I retire from hockey and look back at my career.
After the ceremony, I went to dinner with my family and my agent to celebrate. We went to a sushi place and had a relaxing dinner. Then I met up with a few other guys, Boyler [New Jersey Devils center and former teammate Brian Boyle] for example, and we just had a good time together. We had to get up pretty early the next morning to go back to Sweden, so we weren't out super late. It wasn't that crazy of a night to be honest with you. I was still in a little bit of shock and still trying to take it all in. It was fun to have the people close to you there and to have your friends there. It's nice when you can hang out with the guys around the league outside of hockey too. Having my parents there to celebrate with me was very special. They've been behind me my whole career. They deserve a lot of credit for where I am today. They put food on the table, they drove me to all of my practices. I have two older brothers that both played hockey and soccer growing up, so I don't think there was a single day where it was a quiet night. There was always something. They really took care of us and made sure we got there on time and allowed us to follow our dreams. It was obviously very special to have them there.
Like usual, I've spent most of my summer back home in Sweden. The weather has been phenomenal. I think it's the warmest summer in 260 years or something like that. I work out with my trainers back home and started skating with Modo [a professional hockey team in Hedman's hometown of Ornskoldsvik] and just kind of the same routines I have before every season, try to work on things I need to improve on and make sure I'm a better player this season. This year was a long season for us, obviously, playing almost until June. I take five or six weeks off the ice and then I start to get back into it slowly. Then I start skating with Modo. They hit the ice August 1 and from there on I'm with them on the ice. I think it's good to get into team practice right away. You get the battle drills, you get some scrimmage, you get some normal habits, and I think it's good for me to get back into those habits right away. I think that's why I prefer to stay a little bit more over here and wait for more guys to come into town in Tampa before we head over. It's been a good setup, and Modo's very nice to allow me to practice with them and try and work on the things I need to get better at. You look back on the season and go through what you can improve on and try and get back into ice condition shape and just get ready for training camp.
My wife and I just got back from vacation in Italy. We hadn't been before and we had some time to pretty much travel through the whole country in 10 days. It was very nice. We got to watch some soccer, went to the opening game of the Serie A season between Lazio and Napoli. That was pretty cool that we were in Rome at the time and able to catch that game in one of the most famous arenas in soccer at Stadio Olimpico. Really cool experience, and it was a good match too. I think Tuscany was probably our favorite place in Italy. It's just beautiful countryside with mountains and not a whole lot of big villages except Florence obviously, but we were mostly in the hillside and staying in pretty remote locations. I really liked that, and the scenery was beautiful. We went from Montalcino and Tuscany down to Rome and then we finished at the Amalfi Coast for four days. It's a beautiful country. We had a car, and the longest drive we did at one time was I think three-and-a-half hours. You can get from point A to point B pretty quickly. I want to go back for sure. It's a little bit different than Tampa with the mountains and everything, but when you're around the ocean, it's a good feeling.
I'll be back in Tampa and start training at the practice facility on September 5 if everything goes as planned with the planes -- you never know with that. So that's the plan for now. I think I get in around 6 or 7 the night before, and with jet lag, I'll probably be up at 5 a.m. right away. So I'll be out at Brandon early morning on the 5th and start training with the guys on the ice to get ready for what we hope is a great season."