The victims and survivors of three tragedies — the mass shootings in Las Vegas and at Parkland Stoneman Douglas High School, and the bus accident that killed 16 members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team — were a big part of Wednesday night's NHL Awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman took time in his acceptance speech for winning the NHL's Norris Trophy to mention those guests, having had time to meet with some of them on Tuesday.
"I want to say how special it is for me to accept this award in Vegas, and in front of the guys from Parkland High School and the Broncos," Hedman said. "It goes to show that hockey is more than just a sport. It's a family, and you guys are a true inspiration."
The NHL had 10 of the 13 surviving players from Humboldt at the ceremony and paid tribute to those involved in the shootings, especially with the awards show taking place in Las Vegas.
"Very proud to be the first Lightning to win this award. The #TBLightning community has meant so much to me and my family."Victor Hedman takes home his first Norris Trophy at the #NHLAwards: pic.twitter.com/HZjdUYQ5SV— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 21, 2018
"I got the opportunity to meet the Broncos yesterday, and their fighting spirit rubs off on you," Hedman said in talking to reporters after he accepted his honor. "After those tragedies, I think the hockey community shows that everyone is together, and that's something I wanted to try to hit home in my speech. This is more than a game. We are a family, and off the ice, everyone is so close."
The novelty and success of the Golden Knights reaching the Stanley Cup final in the franchise's first season helped the city of Las Vegas mourn a tragic event that put their city in national headlines. Hedman said he was aware of the impact that had on Las Vegas as he returned again this week.
"It's such a special place, to see what it went through in October and the way this community rallied together with the hockey team and the way they performed," Hedman said. "I think it's important for me to acknowledge that. It really hit home, seeing those guys fight through a tragedy. It's nothing short of remarkable."