Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Victor Hedman Dual Jersey Card

There is bound to be a dichotomy between the best at anything for a period and the best on a shorter term, or most deserving of a nod. Victor Hedman, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in an impressive Stanley Cup run with the Tampa Bay Lightning is currently the best defenseman in the NHL, but I'm totally fine with handing this year's Norris Trophy for best performance by a defenseman to the Washington Capitals' John Carlson who produced an insane 75 points in 69 games this year, well ahead of anyone else at his position while almost never playing with Alex Ovechkin. It was his second straight 70-point season, and it deserves some recognition.

Does Carlson have flaws? Of course: all over the defensive zone. Does Hedman? Not really. And that's why Hedman won the Norris in 2017-18 and has been a finalist for the past four years. He's so dominant you get used to it, but not quite as head and shoulders above his peers as Nicklas Lidstrom used to be - which justified his winning the award every year - which is why other worthy seasons were also rewarded with the award.

His performance in these playoffs was just as impressive as those of the last defenseman who won the award, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, and it's a safe bet both players will end up in the Hall Of Fame some day.

He technically fell two goals short of Paul Coffey's 12 in a single postseason, but I was glad no one broke any production records this year since the statistics were skewed by the play-in round counting as postseason games this year, which is an aberration. I understand the league didn't want to influence the regular-season points (Leon Draisaitl versus Connor McDavid) and goals (Ovechkin versus David Pastrnak) standings, but that's no reason to forgo playoff history, although Wayne Gretzky was correct in saying that the greats from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s were at a disadvantage when the elimination round started al being best-of-sevens instead of best-of-fives.

Speaking of all-time greats, none other than Scotty Bowman - whom the Toronto Sun aptly described as having "coached Doug Harvey and Lidstrom, Coffey, Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, and happened to be on the bench in St. Louis when Bobby Orr flew through the air after his famous 1970 Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal" had this to say about Hedman:
He is in his own place right now. He’s a big guy that does just about everything right. He’s so mobile for his size. He plays, what, 26 minutes a game? And you get the impression he could play a lot more. He reminds me of Larry (Robinson) that way. For a big man, he can really skate.
That's how I'd compare him as well. He's not as mean as Chris Pronger, but he hits as hard as Robinson; he's not as smooth and perfect as Lidstrom, but he almost looks as smooth as Scott Niedermayer out there at times.

Here he is wearing the Bolts' former third jersey on card #FA-VH from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Artifacts set and Frozen Artifacts sub-set:
It features two white game-worn jersey swatches that likely come from the team's away uniform.

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