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Hedberg reflects on time in Atlanta

Friday, 12.17.2010 / 4:47 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Hedberg reflects on time in Atlanta
Hedberg returns to Atlanta when Devils face Thrashers on Saturday.
Johan Hedberg has fond memories of his time with the Thrashers. He’ll make his first return to the Peach State when the Devils visit Atlanta on Saturday night.

“I spent four years there and know most of the guys, so it’s always special,” said Hedberg, who signed in New Jersey as a free agent this summer. “But I’ve always said I approach every game with the same attitude. It wouldn’t be any different from that point.”

Hedberg’s stint in Atlanta was longer than any other during his 10-year career. He enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2009-10, collecting 21 wins, a 2.62 goals-against average, .915 save percentage and three shutouts.

In 2007, Hedberg made two starts in the Thrashers' lone playoff series appearance.

Though head coach John MacLean said Friday morning he had yet to make a decision on Saturday’s starter, Hedberg will prepare the same as he always does.

“I always hope to play,” he said. “I’ve been around long enough to play it as it happens. If I get called to play, I do everything I can to play my best. That’s all I can focus on.”

Atlanta was ranked sixth in the East entering Friday’s action, with a record of 17-11-5. Led by Dustin Byfuglien’s 33 points, the Thrashers have scored the fourth-most goals in the conference (102).

Hedberg’s happy to see his former club headed in the right direction.

“I have to say I am,” he said. “It could be a really good hockey market. I think of things that have been happening over the years. When I was there, too, the last three years, they really struggled, and I think fans, as they are everywhere, want to see a winner. If they are a successful franchise, I’m sure they’re going to draw well.”

He remains in touch with ex-teammates like fellow Swede, defenseman Tobias Enstrom.

“There’s a lot of people left, and a lot of new people came in,” said Hedberg. “The new coaching staff seems to have everything in order, and I’ve only heard positive things. They’re definitely a team on the rise. We’ll be in for a tough game.”