G Johan Hedberg wins the Player’s Player award for the second consecutive year

Atlanta Thrashers Goalie Johan Hedberg was honored before last night’s game against Florida with the Players’ Player award, given annually to the player who best exemplifies being a team player. Hedberg has won the award both seasons he has been in Atlanta. Being well-liked and respected by his teammates is nothing new for the “Moose,” who made a similar impact in Pittsurgh, where he played from 2000-2003. A teammate of his in Pittsburgh once said about Hedberg, “The town was going nuts for him. It was his show. He was competing with Mario (Lemieux) and (Alex) Kovalev and (Jaromir) Jagr and for a guy named Hedberg to stick out of those names is something special.” Hedberg always finds a way to fit in with his teammates, not matter where he goes. Moose has also connected with fans as he is regularly is a fan-favorite such that “Mooose” calls are loudly heard whenever he makes a save.

In addition to being a “team” guy, Hedberg is known for tremendous work ethic; he is continually the first player on and off the ice. Whether he is playing regularly or not, his work ethic never suffers and yet, when called upon, as he was in the 2006-07 Playoffs against the NY Rangers, he tends to come up huge for his team. After Atlanta lost Game 1 to New York, Hedberg stepped in and made a playoff career-high 37 saves in 2-1 loss to the NY Rangers. Moose is the type of player that teams want to be build around as he sets an example for the young players and even the veterans. 18-year veteran Mark Recchi chimed in on Hedberg’s leadership qualities following last night’s game: “Moose – No. 1 he’s the most hard-working goalie I’ve ever played with. He’s the ultimate team guy on your team. If you had 20 guys like him, you wouldn’t have any problems. I’ll tell you that. He’s the type of guy you need in your dressing room to grow your team and get better. You can never get enough leaders like that.” Earlier this season, Thrashers rookie standout Tobias Enstrom was living in Hedberg’s apartment, further evidence that Moose is always willing to lend a helping hand, something that statistics do not always tell the story of.

Hedberg, Kovalchuk receive honors

Published on: 04/02/08

Craig Custance
• HEDBERG HONORED: For the second consecutive year, Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg won the Players’ Player award, given to the athlete who best exemplifies team play. The award is voted on by the players.
Hedberg is second player in franchise history to win the award in consecutive seasons. Jeff Odgers won it from 2001-03.

Always the first one out for practice and willing to spend extra time on the ice with anyone, Hedberg is often mentioned as the hardest working and most well-liked player on the team.