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Tampa Bay Lightning

This gentle giant has a nasty side

Tribune correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: March 23, 2013 at 12:25 AM
MONTREAL -

Victor Hedman said he wasn't going to sleep well the night before the draft. But it turned out he did.

Apparently waking up six times constitutes a good sleep.

By Friday night, the second overall selection in this year's NHL entry draft was happy go-lucky and very excited to be a member of the Lightning, despite working on what most people would deem unacceptable sleep.

And it's that gentle and relaxed attitude that has Lightning officials giddy about their selection, an 18-year-old Swede who has played the majority of the past two seasons competing against adults in the Swedish Elite League.

"He's a classy kid," Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. "I was really impressed when I talked to him. He's got a great family. Everything about him, he's a blue-chip guy. He's a gentleman, but he's got a little bit of a streak on the ice and can play physical for us."

The Lightning might not be so giddy about Hedman's other passion - flying. Hedman's grandfather was a military pilot, and Hedman would like to one day earn a pilot's license.

"We'll have to see if Tampa allows me to take flying lessons," Hedman said. "Flying ... it's nice. You feel so free up there. I've only taken one lesson, but I'd like to take more."

Sounds like a recipe for success: A guy who doesn't get rattled by a lack of sleep, has the calm demeanor to fly a plane and is mature beyond his age.

Having played professionally in the Swedish Elite League for most of the past two years, registering 25 points in 82 games, Hedman is confident he can fill the role Tampa Bay is looking for very soon.

"Obviously I'm moving to another country but I am looking forward to it and I have been to Tampa," Hedman said. "I'm here to play hockey and I'm really looking forward to becoming an NHL player and to play in North America and to live here."

Tocchet said playing against men in the elite league the past few years will be a huge help to Hedman in making the transition.

"You're playing with older men and he held his own and I think that helped him develop a lot quicker," Tocchet said.

Calm, mature, professional and he likes the sun.

He's sure to get a good sleep tonight.

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