Following a 15-year career, 643 NHL games and two Stanley Cup championships, former Chicago Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg officially announced his retirement from hockey on Tuesday morning. A former fifth-round pick by the Boston Bruins in 2004, Versteeg has amassed 811 career professional games across North America and Europe, with an additional 117 professional playoff games. He was was a key part of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 2010 and 2015 Stanley Cup championships and helped Team Canada win the 2019 Spengler Cup this past December.
On Tuesday, Versteeg announced his retirement and released a personal statement along with it:
Statement from Kris Versteeg:
“What a run it was. A kid from North Lethbridge who played on the streets every day, dreaming of playing in the NHL. 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.”
Versteeg made his professional debut with the Providence Bruins in 2006 in the AHL before being traded to the Blackhawks’ organization. He played for the Norfolk Admirals and Rockford IceHogs from 2006–08, making his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in November of 2007. He played his first full season in the NHL during the 2008–09 season, where he tallied 53 points in 78 games and was a Calder Trophy finalist, finishing third behind Bobby Ryan and award winner Steve Mason.
The Alberta native was a key piece during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Blackhawks, scoring six goals and 14 points in 22 games, as the 49-year Stanley Cup drought was put to an end in Chicago and a modern-era dynasty was born. Unfortunately for Versteeg and many other key players from the 2010 Stanley Cup team, the Blackhawks could not keep him around and he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs that summer.
From the 2010–11 season to early in the 2013–14 season, Versteeg bounced from the Maple Leafs to the Philadelphia Flyers and then to the Florida Panthers before making his way back to Chicago in November of 2013. During that span, Versteeg was limited to 10 games in the shortened 2013 season due to rib and groin injuries, followed by season-ending knee surgery while with the Panthers.
He stayed with the Blackhawks through the rest of the 2013–14 season, totaling 36 points in 81 games played between Chicago and Florida. Versteeg played in 61 games with the Blackhawks during the 2014–15 season the next year and skated in 12 games in the postseason as the Blackhawks would go on to win their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history and third over a six-year span, marking the second Stanley Cup of his career.
Following that season, Versteeg was again traded away from Chicago and landed with the Carolina Hurricanes. From the 2015–16 season to the 2017–18 season, Versteeg played for the Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames before leaving the NHL after the 2017–18 season. Injuries began to take a toll on his body, including a hip injury that caused him to miss half of the 2017–18 season in Calgary. He was near retirement at that point, but returned to professional hockey during the 2018–19 season, playing parts in the SHL with Växjö Lakers and with Avangard Omsk in the KHL.
Versteeg returned to North America at the beginning of the 2019–20 season, joining the Blackhawks’ organization for the third time in his career after signing an AHL contract with the IceHogs. Prior to the season beginning, Versteeg was named the captain of the IceHogs in his second go-around with Rockford. But the honeymoon was short lived in Versteeg’s re-return to the organization as he re-aggravated his prior hip injury after just six games with the IceHogs, ultimately ending his time with the organization in November of 2019, citing his struggles to fully commit to the level of play that was expected of him.
Looking to not end his career on a sour note, Versteeg made one last attempt to get on the ice and taste success, as he was able to play for Team Canada at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland this past December. Playing alongside his younger brother, Mitch Versteeg, as well as Blackhawks prospects Ian Mitchell and Matt Tomkins, Kris was able to help Canada win its 16th Spengler Cup, tallying five points in four games, including a goal and assist in the Spengler Cup Final.
Versteeg’s career will be remembered in two ways: one, as a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Blackhawks, and the other as a promising player cut down by injuries. Now officially retired, Versteeg has mentioned his desire to move into broadcasting. He was part of the NHL Trade Deadline coverage this past February with Sportsnet in Canada.