Tampa Bay defenseman Hedman named playoffs MVP

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(Reuters) - Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the Conn Smythe Trophy on Monday as the Most Valuable Player in the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs after leading his team to the championship.

The Lightning clinched the best-of-seven championship series 4-2 over the Dallas Stars in Edmonton, which was one of two Canadian hub cities designated for the playoffs to help limit travel and minimize COVID-19 risks.

Hedman, 29, scored 10 goals during the playoffs, the most by a defenseman in a single postseason since 1994. He was selected second overall in the 2009 draft and has spent his entire NHL career with Tampa Bay.

“It means the world, you know, we’re bringing the Cup back home,” Hedman said in a televised interview after the game. “Being a part of this organization for 11, 12 years has been a great ride.

“To win the Cup is just -- it’s going to take a few weeks, months maybe, for it to sink in.”

Hedman, who also had 11 assists in the postseason, earned his third All Star Game selection in December and put up 11 goals in the regular season.

The 6-foot-6-inch Swede could scarcely put his emotions into words after the game, which capped a grueling two months inside a quarantined setting due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“That last period was probably the longest period of my life,” he said. “We felt the support from back home, it’s so many emotions at the same time, it’s hard to describe.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery; Editing by Peter Rutherford