LAS VEGAS -- Victor Hedman was nervous making his acceptance speech after the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman won the Norris Trophy at the 2018 NHL Awards Presented by Hulu at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas on Wednesday.
"It's the first time I've done something like this," Hedman said.
Hedman said his nerves caused him to forget to thank his coaches and supporters back in his hometown of Ornskoldsvik, Sweden and the Modo hockey program there. But it was clear what winning the Norris Trophy for the first time, and becoming the first Lightning defenseman to win it, meant to him.
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He became the third Swede to win the trophy, following seven-time winner Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings and two-time winner Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators.
"Every defenseman wants to get as good as you can and to get the recognition, and it's an unbelievable feeling," Hedman said. "Being only the third Swede is pretty special, so I'm so happy that I got to enjoy this with my family."
Hedman said Lidstrom was his childhood hero and he's tried to emulate how he played.
"It's just his complete game," Hedman said. "I don't think he ever got checked once in his life. He always had his head up, and he knew when he had the puck when to shoot and when to pass and the way he played the game was just amazing. If I get anywhere close to that, I'm a happy man."
Video: Hedman on winning the Norris Trophy
Hedman, who finished third in the Norris voting last season, had an NHL career-high 17 goals this season, which tied with Ivan Provorov of the Philadelphia Flyers and Dougie Hamilton of the Calgary Flames for first among defensemen. His plus-minus of plus-32 was second in the NHL behind Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson, who was plus-34.
Hedman, 27, set personal bests in total time on ice (1,990:30) and ice time per game (25:51). His 63 points, which ranked fifth among defensemen, made him the first defenseman in Lightning history to score more than 60 points in multiple seasons (he had 72 points last season).
Winning the Norris was special to Hedman, but he said that falling short again in his pursuit of winning the Stanley Cup will continue to drive him. The Lightning lost to the Washington Capitals, the eventual Cup champions, in seven games in the Eastern Conference Final.
"There's one trophy everybody wants to win and that's the Stanley Cup," he said. "I haven't accomplished that yet. Obviously, [winning the Norris] is going to be with me for the rest of my life, there's no question about that.
"But there's one trophy we want to win, and that's the one you win as a team. That's our goal moving forward. To me, I'll enjoy this tonight and I'll go home tomorrow and get ready for next season."