Kris Versteeg spent a little over three seasons away from Chicago and he’s thrilled to be back.
The 27-year-old forward won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2010, but they had serious cap problems and consequently dealt him to the Toronto Maple Leafs that summer. From there he went to Philadelphia and Florida before Chicago re-acquired him on Thursday.
“Obviously when (Panthers GM Dale Tallon) called me last night and told me I was coming back here, obviously put a smile on my face,” Versteeg said, according to the Sun Sentinel.
“It’s where my heart is.”
He might be excited about the prospect of rejoining the Blackhawks, but the reasons Florida dealt him in the first place were less than flattering.
“His game wasn’t consistent; it wasn’t at the top of his game,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “He hadn’t played well yet this year.”
Tallon echoed Horachek remarks about Versteeg’s inconsistency and suggested that Versteeg was trying to do too much. That might have been partially influenced by him wanting to live up to his four-year, $17.6 million contract — Florida will retain half of what remains — but playing for a struggling club might have also been a factor.
Either way, Chicago won’t be counting on Versteeg to carry the team and that should help take some of the weight off his shoulders. He’ll be paired up with Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw on the third line Saturday, according to CSN Chicago.