A couple of weeks ago, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman helped Sweden earn a gold medal at the IIHF World Championships.
Prior to the quarterfinal match against Switzerland, Jimmy Wixtröm of the Swedish newspaper-tabloid Aftonbladet followed Victor Hedman around as he went through his pregame ritual. Along the way, Hedman revealed how many sticks he uses in a season, his preference for hard skates, how he avoids cramps, his memory of playing with Peter Forsberg, and the most difficult player to face in the NHL.
The video is in Swedish and can be found on Aftonbladet.se. Transcription and translation were performed by three very helpful redditors. Many thanks to /u/Hedmaniac for doing the majority of the transcript and translation, Jim (/u/elgrandeslimbo) for editing, and Leffe (/u/needyspace) for providing the fun conversation at the end between Hedman and Gabriel Landeskog.
This video required a lot of effort from the translators. If you use this translation in any context, please credit them for their work.
Hedman walking into arena facility, heading toward the locker room.
Wixtröm: Two hours left until the game. What’s going through your mind right now?
Hedman: Just focused on being better than we were yesterday. Especially myself, I have to get it together. Get inside and get ready, have some meetings, and then just go.
Sticks and Skates
Cut to Hedman in front of his locker stall with his equipment - sticks, skates, etc.
Wixtröm: How many sticks do you go through?
Hedman: Too many, I think. In a season, about 100. It gets expensive but the equipment is an important part. Just like you with your camera, you need good gear.
Wixtröm: How often do you change skates?
Hedman: Every tenth game. I like it when skates are hard. If they get too soft, then it feels like I will fall every time I take a stride. I just got a new pair for the World Championships.
Wixtröm: Aren’t new skates uncomfortable?
Hedman: No, I love new skates. Absolutely not a problem, I use them straight from the box. Some players heat their skates so they form a little, but not me. I’m not that picky.
Playing with Peter Forsberg
Wixtröm: Have you played with Peter Forsberg?
Hedman: Actually yes. When he made a comeback with MODO [professional ice hockey club in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden], it was awesome. Skellefteå at home, I remember the first game. He scored a goal and I was on the ice. That’s a memory that I’ll cherish forever. It was awesome.
Wixtröm: Were you involved in the goal?
Hedman: I don’t know if I even touched the puck, but I was the first one over to celebrate. The video is on YouTube. I’ve watched it a few times.
Salt. Lots and lots of salt.
Cut to Hedman adding salt to three water bottles.
Another player [coughs]: It went down the wrong pipe.
Hedman: Well don’t do that.
Wixtröm: What are you doing now?
Hedman: Loading with salts. I cramp like crazy when I play. I always drink one before each period.
Wixtröm: What happens if you don’t?
Hedman: I cramp, my legs cramp. I don’t know if it would happen now, but I’ve been doing this for four or five years. Feels much better. Especially when I sweat a lot, I lose a lot of fluids.
Wixtröm: You’re playing a lot too...
Hedman: Yeah, sometimes. [laughs] I played over 30 minutes in the first game against Russia. That’s when I really need it.
Soccer versus hockey
Cut to Hedman on exercise bike in locker room.
Other player: Do you want updates right now?
Other player: 0-0 right now.
Hedman: Yes I want updates. How much time have they played?
Other player: 55 minutes.
Other player exits.
Hedman: [Manchester] United versus Swansea.
Hedman: We were all more hockey-oriented, but we won a lot of [soccer] games.
Wixtröm: What position did you play [in soccer]?
Hedman: Striker. I was a little mini-Zlatan at the top. [laughs] Worthless at headers though, even though I was big. Glad I chose hockey. [laughs]
Wixtröm: Well it worked out pretty well.
Hedman: Yeah, hockey is the best sport you can play. Soccer is still a passion, but I don’t think I would’ve reached the same level as I have in hockey now.
Pregame ritual and World Championships
Cut to Hedman walking to a different room and stretching.
Wixtröm: Time to stretch?
Hedman: Yes, always the same routine. You go through a lot of different routines through the years, but once you find one that works, you stick with it.
Wixtröm: How does it feel to be a part of the World Championship?
Hedman: It’s really huge actually. It is nothing to sneeze at. Missing the NHL playoffs takes away some of the joy. You don’t feel 100% happy, but it’s still really huge and feels great to go there.
Gabriel Landeskog walks into the room.
Hedman: Yo Gabriel!
Landeskog: Some extra training?
Hedman: There you have Jack in the Box. He likes to be seen.
Focus and tough opponents
Hedman: You learn as you go along to focus on the things you can control. How I play, what I do. How you should get in shape both mentally and physically. What’s fun is that no two games are alike. Sometimes you have the puck, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you play more defense, sometimes more offense. It’s hard to predict how the game will go, so you have to mentally and physically prepare for every scenario.
Wixtröm: Which player is hardest to face?
Hedman: I think Malkin is terrifyingly good. He’s strong, fast, and technical. The more furious he gets, the better he gets. He’s a beast to face.
Locker room banter
Cut to Hedman sitting in his locker stall next to Anton Stralman and Gabriel Landeskog. For context, Landeskog wears #92 and has a twin sister. Hedman wears #77.
Landeskog: My Sister was actually born in ‘92.
Hedman: But when were you born? [laughs] Same day? Same year?
Landeskog: Yeah. Honoring my sister, that's what I'm doing.
Hedman: You're honoring yourself. It’s different. You're the only one in the league [NHL] with #92. [Landeskog and Stralman laugh]
Landeskog: And you’re what, Ray Bourque? [Bourque wore #77]
Hedman: No, I’m Pavel Kubina [who also wore #77]
Landeskog: Pffft! [Stralman laughs]
Cut to Hedman getting dressed and walking to the ice with the team.