ROCKFORD, Ill. – The American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs and team captain, Kris Versteeg, have mutually agreed on the release of Versteeg from his AHL contract, effective immediately.
“Earlier this week, Kris approached us about mutually terminating his contract, at which point we asked him to take another couple of days to think about it,” said Chicago Blackhawks Vice President, Hockey Operations/Team Affiliates and IceHogs General Manager, Mark Bernard. “We spoke again Saturday morning and he had come to his final decision. Since 2007, when Kris first became a member of the Blackhawks organization, he has represented us with class and professionalism. He will always be a member of our organization’s family and we wish him and his family all the best going forward.”
Versteeg originally signed a one-year AHL contract with the IceHogs on April 22. He skated in six games with Rockford this season and has combined for 50 points (18g, 32a) and 176 penalty minutes in 62 career games with the IceHogs. He also helped Rockford reach the Division Finals of the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs, logging a team-best six goals during the Hogs’ postseason run.
“Kinger (Head Coach Derek King) and Anders (Assistant Coach Anders Sorensen) were so good to me," added Versteeg. "I have to thank them for how they treated me the entire time and understood the situation I was in and where I am in my hockey career and life. I wish nothing but the best for them because they truly were great to me this whole time and very helpful through everything.”
The Lethbridge, Alberta native was originally selected by the Boston Bruins in the fifth round (134th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft. He has spent 11 seasons in the NHL, including parts of five seasons with the Blackhawks (2007-10, 2013-15), and helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in both 2009-10 and 2014-15.
Below is a statement from Versteeg regarding his release from his AHL contract:
To the Blackhawks organization,
It all started in February 2007, while I was riding a bus with the Providence Bruins. We were on our way to play the Manchester Monarchs when head coach Scott Gordon called me to come see him up at the front of the bus. Scott said “Steeger... I hate to tell you this, but we just traded you.” All I can remember about this moment was that my mind was racing. I couldn’t hear anything but my own thoughts. It was only two weeks prior that we played a team that was loaded with young, exciting, and promising talent. With so many young players I remember saying to one of my teammates after the game “I sure hope I never get traded there.” After a couple minutes I finally asked Scott and said, “to who?” Scott picked up a pen and a piece of paper then wrote…CHICAGO. The team no more than two weeks ago I was dreading at the very thought of being traded to. At this exact moment I remember looking at that paper saying to myself “this is not good!”
What I didn’t know at that moment, is that I was being traded to an organization that would not only give me my first chance, but my second and final chance. I would like to give thanks and show my sincere gratitude to John McDonough, Stan Bowman, Mark Bernard, Al MacIsaac, Jay Blunk, Derek King, Anders Sorensen, the IceHogs staff and of course Rocky Wirtz and the entire Wirtz Family. You brought me in that day and gave me a new home. This organization gave me everything that I have today, and for this I am grateful. I, as well, would like to thank all members of the Blackhawks/IceHogs organization from top to bottom, and most importantly… the great fans of Chicago and Rockford.
Little did I know that day when I saw Scott write CHICAGO on that piece of paper that this word would forever be written all over my heart, and soul.
Thank you for everything.