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Hedman: Missing 2022 Olympics is 'going to hurt for a while'

Nils Petter Nilsson / World Cup of Hockey / Getty

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is saddened his Olympic dream is once again on hold.

The 31-year-old was set to make his debut on the biggest international stage in February as one of the first three players named to Sweden's roster, but the NHL officially withdrew from participation in the Beijing Games over COVID-19 concerns.

"That's sad," Hedman said, per The Athletic's Joe Smith. "It's something we have been looking forward to for a very long time. It's out of our control what's going on in the world. We were preparing for a battle in February in China but, like I said, it looks like it's not going to happen, so it's a bummer to us to not be able to go. It's going to hurt for a while, but, at the end of the day, you know, safety and everything.

"We’ll go for another Stanley Cup. That will be a good make-up for us."

Despite being one of the league's top defenders for much of the past decade, Hedman has never been to the Olympics. He was surprisingly left off the 2014 team that captured a silver medal, and then the NHL didn't go to PyongChang in 2018. If the league is able to attend Milan in 2026, Hedman will be 35 and on his next NHL contract if he's still playing.

Hedman won a gold medal with Sweden at the 2017 world championship, and he's also represented the country at the world juniors and World Cup of Hockey.

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