Kris Versteeg announces retirement after 11 NHL seasons

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Kris Versteeg has announced his retirement after a 643-game NHL career where he won two Stanley Cups.

A fifth-round pick of the Bruins in 2004, Versteeg was dealt to the Blackhawks for Brandon Bochenski in 2007 and made his NHL debut later that season. In his first full season — 2008-09 — he finished second in rookie scoring with 22 goals and 53 points. He was voted a finalist for the Calder Trophy and was named to the All-Rookie Team.

The next season Versteeg would help the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup and later discovered his name had been misspelled on the trophy before it was corrected.

At the Blackhawks parade that summer, the winger would also show off his rapping skills:

Versteeg would move on to the Maple Leafs, Flyers and Panthers before returning to Chicago in 2014 and winning another Cup a year later. After two seasons back with the Blackhawks he would play for the Hurricanes, Kings, and Flames before finishing up in Europe in his final two seasons.

Since he stopped playing, Versteeg, who finished with 149 goals and 358 points, dipped his toe in the media pool by joining Sportsnet’s coverage of NHL Trade Deadline day in February.

“What a run it was. A kid from North Lethbridge who played on the streets every day, dreaming of playing in the NHL,” Versteeg said in a statement released by the NHLPA on Tuesday. “I took a lot for granted in my time in the NHL. But the one thing I never took for granted were the relationships I made with my teammates and staff of the hockey clubs I played for. A bunch of people have made huge impacts on my life. There was one guy who took a kid with a different personality and a massive chip on his shoulder and helped give him hope, and that was Scott Gordon. Dale Tallon also took a chance on me and gave me multiple opportunities throughout my career. I know I wasn’t always the easiest to deal with. Without people like Scott and Dale, the road to today would not be what it was.

“Thanks to my agent Dave Kaye, and my finance advisor Chris Moynes for the last 15 years.  Thank you to every organization I was able to play for. I didn’t realize it then, but I certainly appreciate now how amazing it was to play in the NHL. I want to thank the Chicago Blackhawks’ entire organization, from top to bottom, especially including the fans. The 2010 Championship was the highlight of my career. I also want to thank Brad Treliving for letting me come home to finish my NHL career. As a person and a GM, he made a huge impact on me.

“My grandparents Morris and Joanne helped pay for skates and equipment, while feeding us when we couldn’t afford it. They are my real heroes for keeping me and my brothers in the rinks and off the streets. I’m both nervous and excited for what comes next. I have a wife who has supported me endlessly, two boys and a daughter who all have their journeys ahead of them, and I’m excited to see where those might lead. Lastly, a special thanks to my Mom and Dad. I could thank you guys for a thousand things, but it all leads back to saying thank you for the hockey stick. It may be going on the rack, but the endless amount of amazing memories it gave our entire family will be etched in our minds forever.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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