Blackhawks

Kris Versteeg pens emotional letter to Blackhawks organization after release from Rockford IceHogs

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AP

Kris Versteeg pens emotional letter to Blackhawks organization after release from Rockford IceHogs

Kris Versteeg made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks and won two Stanley Cups with the team, but his comeback attempt has ended.

Versteeg, 33, requested his contract with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, be terminated. Versteeg joined the IceHogs on a one-year AHL contract after last season, but was limited to six games so far this season due to injury.

“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,” IceHogs general manager Mark Bernard said. “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 had two stints with the Blackhawks from 2007-2010 and 2013-2015, playing on the 2010 and 2015 Cup winning teams. He last played in the NHL two seasons ago with the Calgary Flames. He spent last season overseas in Russia and Sweden before signing with the IceHogs.

Versteeg wrote a letter to the Blackhawks organization that makes it sound like the end of a chapter for him:

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, 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.

Yours Truly,

Kris Versteeg

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Crawford comes up big for 250th win

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AP

Crawford comes up big for 250th win

Corey Crawford captured a coveted goalie milestone with another solid performance in a 2-1 shootout victory for the Blackhawks on Friday in New Jersey. The Hawks (12-12-5) beat the Atlantic division-leading Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Boston with Robin Lehner in net on Thursday before playing the Devils, last in the Metropolitan, Friday with Crawford starting. 

"It's important to try to climb back up in the standings," Crawford said following the game. "We had a few tough games, it seems like it's been pretty streaky the first quarter of the season, but when we're playing well I think we're pretty tough to beat. We just got to try to find that game as much as possible. 

"But that was obviously a big win to start it and against one of the best teams in the league (the Bruins) and having a big lead too, going late into the third period, and then a team that's a little bit lower in the standings (the Devils), but you still have to come out hard and play, no games are easy. It was pretty competitive out there but it's nice to find a way to win." 

The two-time Stanley Cup champ saved 29 of 30 shots through overtime, including a Miles Wood breakaway with 11 seconds remaining in the second period and the game tied 1-1. He also stopped three of five New Jersey Devils shooters including Taylor Hall and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in the shootout. 

Crawford became the 59th goalie in NHL history to record 250 wins. The 34-year-old is one of 13 active NHL goalies and just the third Hawks netminder to reach the milestone.

Crawford is 250-149-52 in 464 games with the Blackhawks and has 26 shutouts. 

5 Takeaways: Blackhawks win 2-1 in shootout vs. Devils

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AP

5 Takeaways: Blackhawks win 2-1 in shootout vs. Devils

The Blackhawks won 2-1 against the New Jersey Devils in a shootout on Friday. Here are five takeaways:

Top to bottom

The Hawks were looking to establish some momentum in Jersey following a big win Thursday in Boston. Jonathan Toews scored in overtime and Alex DeBrincat ended a 12-game goal drought to help the Hawks to a 4-3 OT win over the Bruins, ending the Blackhawks' 3-game losing streak in which they were outscored 16-5. 

Going from facing the first place team in the Atlantic division (second in the NHL) on Thursday to the last place team in the Metropolitan division (second to last in the league) on Friday proved to be tougher than imagined. 

Alex DeBrincat scored the lone regulation goal for Chicago and Kirby Dach, the No. 3 pick of the 2019 NHL Draft, scored the final goal of the shootout and set up No. 1 pick Jack Hughes to get stopped by Corey Crawford for the 2-1 final score. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane also scored in the shootout for the Blackhawks.

Crow 250

Corey Crawford won his 250th NHL game on Friday. The two-time Stanley Cup champ is the 59th goalie in NHL history to reach the milestone and one of 13 active netminders to do so. The 34-year-old is the third goalie to reach 250 wins with the Blackhawks. 

Crawford saved 29 of 30 New Jersey shots ahead of the shootout. 

Cat on the prowl 

DeBrincat scored his second goal in two games after not lighting the lamp in his previous 12. This is a good sign for the forward, who is known to score in bunches.

Gilbert getting noticed

Dennis Gilbert skated in his second straight game with the Hawks with Olli Maatta (flu-like symptoms) missing both contents on the road trip. Gilbert had a solid game in Boston Thursday and improved his case Friday, putting a big hit on Hughes then having a decent showing after answering the bell with Wayne Simmonds.

Kane watch

Kane tied Andy Bathgate for 93rd on the NHL career points list (973), assisting on DeBrincat's second period goal.