Hedman Joins Rare Company by Reaching 1,000 NHL Games

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a lot of great players don Bolts blue in their history. Only a few have played most of their careers in Tampa Bay, though. Monday night vs the Dallas Stars, defenseman Victor Hedman will join fellow teammates Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier as the third player to play 1,000 games with the franchise that drafted him.

Selected second overall in the 2009 NHL Draft, Hedman felt the pressure that comes with being a top pick from the moment he stepped foot in Tampa Bay. The spotlight didn’t scare him, however, as he got to work learning the NHL game.

At 6’7”, it took Hedman a few years to figure out how to best use his height and reach to his advantage. That is evidenced by a negative plus-minus and between 70 and 80 penalty minutes in two of his first three seasons.

With 2012-13 being a lockout-shortened season, Hedman struggled to put up points but showed improvement defensively. The plus-1 rating he put up in 44 games was a vast improvement over the minus-9 he had the previous year.

Beginning in the 2013-14’ season, Hedman really took off. Outside of an injury-shortened 2014-15’ season, limiting him to 59 games, he put up between 45 and 85 points and never had a negative plus-minus rating.

Hedman’s best season was 2017-18’. That year produced the third-best point total (63) and the best plus-minus (+32) of his career. As a result, he won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top defenseman.

Two years later, Hedman led the Lightning to their first Stanley Cup. During a unique postseason that saw the Bolts play without their captain in Stamkos, the big Swede tallied 22 points in 25 games and added a plus-13 rating. That earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player (MVP) of the playoffs. The following season, he and his teammates joined rare company by becoming only the second team in the salary cap era to capture back-to-back Stanley Cups.

In 2021-22’, Hedman put up 19 points in 23 postseason games, with the Lightning coming close to becoming a dynasty before ultimately falling short in six games to the Colorado Avalanche.

Now, after 14 full seasons, Hedman will be recognized by the Lightning organization and receive a silver stick signifying his 1,000th game in a pregame ceremony before taking on the Stars Monday night. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats early so they don’t miss the festivities.

During a tough time and season for the Lightning to this point, Hedman’s special night should bring about a sense of joy for him, his family, and all of those who have watched him grow up before their eyes.

There are a few words I’d like to close with: Congratulations Victor Hedman on reaching 1,000 NHL games!

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Lauren Burg

Lauren Burg is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer for “Inside the Rink.” A lifelong Tampa Bay Area resident, she graduated from the University of South Florida’s world-renowned journalism program in December 2009. While in college, she discovered hockey and the Tampa Bay Lightning. She quickly became a passionate fan, attending many games over the years. She also experienced an All-Star game in 2018, numerous road games, and, most recently, the Bolts back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. Since graduating college, she’s been working hard to combine her two loves, writing and hockey, hoping to one day make that her full-time career. In her free time, she enjoys attending sporting events (both home & road when possible), taking photos, and traveling.

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