Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

18 of 51

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

34. Victor Hedman Amps Up His Game After The NHL Lockout

Date: 2012-13 Season

In any sport, contracts are a fickle thing. They can be on the right track one moment and as soon as you close your eyes for just a split second, things take a turn for the worse and are completely derailed. This is especially truthful when it comes to a league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Since Gary Bettman became the Commissioner of the National Hockey League in 1993, there has been not one, not two, but three lockouts in the NHL. Two of those lockouts have caused the loss of at least half of the games in the season, and the third caused the loss of the entire 2004-05 season; the season following the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup victory.

The last of the aforementioned lockouts began on September 15, 2012 and forced the NHL to shorten the 2012-13 season to just 48 games. Some of the players who remain at home to fight the good fight, or to simply relax and prepare themselves for the eventual start of the new season. At the same time, others would look to their National Teams or European Leagues to keep themselves on top of their game and prevent any rust from building up.

One of those players who looked to the other leagues around the world for an opportunity to play during the NHL Lockout is Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman. While Hedman has always been considered one of the Lightning’s top defenseman since making his debut on the team in the 2009-10 season, Victor Hedman was never your stereotypical offensively minded defenseman.

During the Lockout, Victor Hedman chose to expand his horizons and spend some time in the KHL. Hedman would find himself with a spot on Barys Astana based in in Astana, Kazakhstan. In the 26 games he would play with Barys Astana before the NHL Lockout met its end and players began making their way back home, Hedman was able to net one goal and 21 assists for a total of 22 points.

While this seems impressive enough in itself, it would pale in comparison to what we would see back here in the Bolts Nation when the players would finally make their way back home after the NHL Lockout. After returning, Hedman would be far more aggressive with the puck, his puck handling skills had gotten better, and he was taking many more opportunities heading towards the net.

The six foot six inch tall Swedish defenseman would play in 44 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Lockout-stained 2012-13 season. In that amount of time, he would score four goals and 16 assists for a total of 20 points. While this may not seem all that impressive, just wait…there’s more.

The very next season, Victor Hedman would come back with a vengeance. In the 2013-14 season, Victor Hedman would play in 75 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. This season sparked a whole new version of Victor Hedman, one that still thrives today.

In the 75 games he played in that season, Hedman would set a new career-high in all manners scoring with 13 goals and 42 assists for a total of 55 points. Victor Hedman led all Lightning defensemen in points in the 2013-14 season. He also ranked Fourth Overall in points on the team, being preceded by Martin St. Louis, Ondrej Palat, and Valtteri Filppula.

Today, Victor Hedman continues to be one of the best defensemen on the team, and in some cases in the National Hockey League. Victor Hedman has certainly come a long way since his Tampa Bay Lightning debut, and it seems to have kicked into high gear after his return from the NHL Lockout.

Who would have thought that the NHL Lockout could have been the best thing to ever happen to a player?

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