Kris Versteeg made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks and won two Stanley Cups with the team, but his comeback attempt has ended.
Versteeg, 33, requested his contract with the Blackhawks' AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, be terminated. Versteeg joined the IceHogs on a one-year AHL contract after last season, but was limited to six games so far this season due to injury.
"Earlier this week, Kris approached us about mutually terminating his contract, at which point we asked him to take another couple of days to think about it," IceHogs general manager Mark Bernard said. "We spoke again Saturday morning and he had come to his final decision. Since 2007, when Kris first became a member of the Blackhawks organization, he has represented us with class and professionalism. He will always be a member of our organization's family and we wish him and his family all the best going forward."
Versteeg had two stints with the Blackhawks from 2007-2010 and 2013-2015, playing on the 2010 and 2015 Cup winning teams. He last played in the NHL two seasons ago with the Calgary Flames. He spent last season overseas in Russia and Sweden before signing with the IceHogs.
Versteeg wrote a letter to the Blackhawks organization that makes it sound like the end of a chapter for him:
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.