Kris Versteeg’s third stint with the Blackhawks organization ended Sunday when the two-time Stanley Cup champion was granted his request to terminate his one-year AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs.
The 33-year-old Versteeg had one assist in six AHL games as team captain, while battling a hip injury during his 14th pro season. He signed with the team in April after splitting the 2018-19 season between KHL’s Avangard Omsk in Russia and the SHL’s Växjö Lakers HC in Sweden.
Versteeg plans to pursue a broadcasting career.
“I’ll coach my kids in hockey and then I’ll be probably going into TV,” he said Wednesday during a media scrum. “I’ll be the one with the microphone next, so watch what you say about me in the paper, eh? Cause I’m going to have the microphone next!”
Rockford’s leadership group now consists of assistant captains Matthew Highmore, Jacob Nilsson and Tyler Sikura.
Versteeg’s journey with the Blackhawks organization began in February 2007 when he was acquired from Boston for Brandon Bochenski. Versteeg then played the rest of that season with the Norfolk Admirals before the Blackhawks moved its AHL affiliate to Rockford. He tallied 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists) in the regular season and added 11 points (six goals, five assists) in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Versteeg then earned a full-time NHL roster spot and helped the Blackhawks end their Stanley Cup drought in 2010 before he was traded to Toronto in a multi-player trade that summer. He played for Toronto, Philadelphia and Florida before being brought back to Chicago in November 2013. He played the next two seasons with the Blackhawks and won a second Cup in 2015 then was traded again to Carolina, where he played before stops in Los Angeles and Calgary.
Rockford is scheduled to have a Versteeg bobblehead promotional giveaway for its Dec. 7 home game against Milwaukee.
Statement from Versteeg
To the Blackhawks organization,
It all started in February 2007, while I was riding a bus with the Providence Bruins. We were on our way to play the Manchester Monarchs when head coach Scott Gordon called me to come see him up at the front of the bus. Scott said “Steeger... I hate to tell you this, but we just traded you.” All I can remember about this moment was that my mind was racing. I couldn’t hear anything but my own thoughts. It was only two weeks prior that we played a team that was loaded with young, exciting, and promising talent. With so many young players I remember saying to one of my teammates after the game “I sure hope I never get traded there.” After a couple minutes I finally asked Scott and said, “to who?” Scott picked up a pen and a piece of paper then wrote…CHICAGO. The team no more than two weeks ago I was dreading at the very thought of being traded to. At this exact moment I remember looking at that paper saying to myself “this is not good!”
What I didn’t know at that moment, is that I was being traded to an organization that would not only give me my first chance, but my second and final chance. I would like to give thanks and show my sincere gratitude to John McDonough, Stan Bowman, Mark Bernard, Al MacIsaac, Jay Blunk, and of course Rocky Wirtz and the entire Wirtz Family. You brought me in that day and gave me a new home. This organization gave me everything that I have today, and for this I am grateful. I, as well, would like to thank all members of the Blackhawks/IceHogs organization from top to bottom, and most importantly… the great fans of Chicago and Rockford.
Little did I know that day when I saw Scott write CHICAGO on that piece of paper that this word would forever be written all over my heart, and soul.
Thank you for everything.