When Kris Versteeg was traded from the Panthers to the Blackhawks in November of 2013, there were rumblings of disharmony that reportedly led Versteeg out of town.
Now, Versteeg has cleared the air.
“I never asked out. It’s not like I had any hard feelings being in Florida,” Versteeg explained Tuesday, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I loved my time there, loved waking up every day to great weather.
“I enjoyed going to the rink and really felt like I was finally at home in an organization.”
Versteeg was acquired by Florida in 2011-12 and played well in his first season, scoring a career-high 23 goals and 54 points as the Panthers reached the playoffs. That summer, he inked a four-year, $17.6 million extension with a $4.4M annual cap hit — and that’s when things went south.
A torn ACL cost Versteeg most of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and when he returned the following season, then-head coach Kevin Dineen made him a healthy scratch on numerous occasions — which is where the rift reportedly began. By the time the trade to Chicago was made official, the word “unhappy” popped up numerous times, in reference to both Versteeg’s feelings about how he was treated, and the organization’s feelings on his level of play.
Looking back on his time in Sunrise, Versteeg’s only negative takeaway was the knee issue.
“Florida was huge for me,” he explained. “I played the best hockey of my career that first year when I wasn’t injured. The experience to becoming the top guy on a team and help the team that way helped me gain experience in that regard.
“The only bad part were the injuries.”