When the Chicago Blackhawks traded away Kris Versteeg after the 2010 Stanley Cup championship, many had to assume that his time with the team was over for good. Versteeg wasn’t one of those people though, and now that he’s back with the Blackhawks, he is eager to reward GM Stan Bowman’s faith in him.
“Me and Stan have a great relationship going back to 2010 when they had to trade me away,” he said after the Blackhawks’ 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night. “I talked to him and told him that if I ever had the chance, I would love to come back. Obviously my chance is now, and I’d like to make the best of it.”
Versteeg certainly made the most of that second chance on Saturday, potting his 10th goal of the season in the second period of the game off a beautiful feed from Patrick Kane on the rush. After the game, Versteeg was nothing but complimentary about his linemate.
“Kaner is probably one of the best passers in the league, and he has such great patience,” he said. “It was just a matter of waiting for it and putting it in the net. It was actually really exciting to score at Wrigley, and again this time. I know I fell down (on the celebration), but there was a lot of excitement.”
Versteeg’s goal at Soldier Field wasn’t his first with the Hawks in an outdoor setting. In the 2009 Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, Versteeg potted a goal, and the chance to repeat that history was something that came to his mind when he was reacquired by the Hawks in November.
“When I got traded, that was one of the first things that my family would always bring up,” he said. “You can actually see the excitement that these (outdoor games) bring, and it not only brings excitement for us, but also our family members. I had 20-plus people, and if there’s another game, so be it. You just take it as it comes.”
Versteeg clearly enjoys the spectacle and the opportunity to play outside in the cold weather, and he admitted that there were times during stoppages that he stopped to admire the stadium and the fans around him.
“Every time there were shovels on the ice, you sat back and looked around and just marveled at the people and how amazing the setting was,” he said. “But the biggest part of this game was just getting in the win column and finding those two points. Tonight to score five goals in these conditions was good to see.”
Before the game, Bowman had some laudatory things to say about Versteeg’s play.
“Kris has been really good for us,” he said. “I’m excited for how it’s worked out, and we talked at the time that we made the deal that he gives us that versatility. We like that he can play all around our lineup, and he’s done that so far.”
When hearing about Bowman’s compliment after the game, Versteeg was flattered and said that he appreciated the chance the team had given him.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “They’ve put me in opportunities and roles that you can succeed in, and I just try to prove them right.”