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.
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.
John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.
Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.
Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?
For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting upJohn Tavares.
The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.
Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.