Kris Versteeg

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Kris Versteeg announces retirement after 11 NHL seasons

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.

PHT Morning Skate: Babcock betting on himself; impact of Fabbri trade

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• Mike Babcock on the pressures he’s currently facing with the Maple Leafs struggling: “I’m going to do (the job) as hard as I can for as long as I can. I’ve always bet on Mike Babcock. I’m going to continue to bet on him.” [Toronto Star]

• It’s not been a fun season if you’re employed as a Maple Leafs backup goaltender. [One Puck Short]

• Brady and Matthew Tkachuk have turned into phenomenal NHLers. [TSN]

• It’s been a pretty good first 20 games for the Panthers under Joel Quenneville. [Miami Herald]

• ‘Scrappy’ Jets gaining an identity at season’s quarter-mark. [Winnipeg Free Press]

• Morgan Frost, one of the Flyers’ top prospects, has been recalled. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

• How Barry Trotz went from 50/50 sales to winning the Stanley Cup. [Sportsnet]

• What’s bugging the Predators of late? [A to Z Sports Nashville]

• The Bruins are eager to see Charlie McAvoy reached another level. [Boston Herald]

• Fun story from the NCAA over the weekend: Nine minutes before pregame warmups started, North Dakota’s Josh Rieger was eating a pound of buffalo wings. He got the call, rushed to the rink and scored his first goal. [Grand Forks Herald]

• How Robby Fabbri trade impacts Detroit Red Wings, Andreas Athanasiou. [Detroit Free Press]

• Five women who should be inducted next into the Hockey Hall of Fame. [Sporting News]

• Kris Versteeg asked to be released from his contract with the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. [NBC Sports Chicago]

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes are benefitting from the addition of assistant coach Phil Housley. [NHL.com]

• Looking at the best and worst in the history of Flyers jerseys. [Hockey by Design]

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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.

Under Pressure: Stan Bowman

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Stan Bowman knew there’d be much change to his hockey club this summer and, as a result, much work to be done.

Wonder if he thought there’d be this much, though.

To recap…

Out: Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, Brad Richards, Antoine Vermette, Antti Raanta, Kimmo Timonen.

In: Artem Anisimov, Marko Dano, Trevor Daley, Ryan Garbutt, Corey Tropp, Jeremy Morin, Artemi Panarin, Viktor Tikhonov.

And Bowman isn’t even done yet.

According to war-on-ice.com, the ‘Hawks are nearly $400K over the $71.4 million salary cap, with the likes of ace penalty killer Marcus Kruger and fellow depth checker Joakim Nordstrom still requiring new deals. Kruger’s said he’s willing to sit and wait for an extension and Bowman suggested he’d like to get it signed before training camp, which means the ‘Hawks will have to shed some bucks within the next three weeks or so.

So, how will they do it?

Bryan Bickell, he of the $4 million average annual cap hit — and multiple healthy scratches during the playoffs — has been bandied about as potential trade bait. The club could also try and do something with Kris Versteeg ($2.2M cap hit).

Or maybe Bowman makes a move he doesn’t want to make.

That was the situation earlier this summer with Saad, when the ‘Hawks were forced to move their promising young power forward to Columbus because the dollars didn’t make sense. Remember, Bowman was at one point very adamant he’d get a deal done with Saad — vowing to keep him in Chicago “for years to come” — only to later realize it wasn’t going to work within the budget.

Bowman’s financial pressure isn’t solely about getting under the cap to start the year, either. The ‘Hawks are built to contend, which means there should be some room for potential acquisitions during the season, most notably at the deadline.

Then, there’s the biggest wildcard of all — the Patrick Kane situation.

Unlike the other dilemmas he’s faced, Bowman has virtually zero control over how this one plays out; there’s no timeline for the ongoing police investigation and no clear picture on what would happen should Kane be charged.

All of which makes for a stressful lead-up to the season. Bowman’s got his hands full.

PHT Morning Skate: Versteeg shows off his dance moves at Setoguchi’s wedding

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Kris Versteeg and Jason Demers showed off their dance moves recently at Devin Setoguchi’s wedding:

The Anaheim Ducks will unveil new third jerseys on Oct. 16 and hinted on Twitter Monday that the new look could be the jerseys worn in the original Mighty Ducks movie.

The New Jersey Devils unveiled the finalists in the Cory Schneider mask design contest. (Sportsnet)

In his latest piece for The Players’ Tribune, Pens’ forward Pascal Dupuis writes about why he’s attempting a comeback after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung. (The Players’ Tribune)

A hockey fan used melted ice from his favorite team’s rink for his daughter’s baptism. (Puck Daddy)

PHT Morning Skate: EA Sports’ NHL 16 will include mascots

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Team mascots will be a part of EA Sports’ NHL 16. (EA Sports)

Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg had his day with the Stanley Cup:

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner shined in Canada’s 4-1 exhibition victory over Russia as the two countries prepare for the 2016 World Juniors. (Toronto Sun)

Defenseman Bryce Salvador had a good talk with Devils GM Ray Shero recently, but it’s still unclear if he’ll extend his career. (The Record)

Buffalo Sabres vice president Joe Battista is reportedly planning on leaving the franchise. (Associated Press)