Tampa Bay Lightning star defenseman Victor Hedman was injured following a solid jolt from Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, but no matter how upset the hit may have made Lightning fans, Hedman said the injury was his fault.
“I had my head down looking at the ice,” Hedman told media. “I have to make sure I keep my head up more and don’t put myself in that position. It was a clean hit, just a bang-bang play. But the most important thing is how I feel now and I feel great.”
Hedman, 24, missed the Lightning’s Saturday tilt after the hit from Benn with an undisclosed injury, but what appeared to be a potential concussion. The hit from Benn came while Hedman was searching for the puck in his skates after getting tied up with Stars defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka along the boards.
“(Benn’s) not a dirty player,” Hedman said. “He’s a hard-working player and a physical player. I admire the way that he plays, and he finished his check.”
The referees for the Stars/Lightning contest and NHL’s Department of Player Safety saw things the same way as Hedman, as Benn wasn’t handed a penalty on the play nor was it deemed worthy of a fine and/or suspension from the league.
When Hedman first left Tampa Bay’s contest against Dallas in the second period this past Thursday, there was some concern as Hedman was clutching his head while on his hands and knees on the ice. He had previously suffered head injuries in his career including a concussion during the 2011-12 season which saw Hedman miss 13 games.
However, after sitting out Saturday and having a nearly five-day break between games, Hedman appears as if he could be ready for Tuesday’s game against the Nashville Predators. The Lightning had called up defenseman Slater Koekkoek from the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, but Koekkoek has since been returned to the minors which should free up a spot for Hedman to slide back into the lineup.
Through five games in 2015-16, Hedman has four points, all assists, and is averaging more than 20 minutes per game in ice time. This past season, Hedman notched 10 goals and 38 points in 59 games and had a stellar one goal and 14 points in 26 post-season games as the Lightning won the Eastern Conference championship.