Another move doesn’t bother Kris Versteeg


Another move doesn’t bother Kris Versteeg

Kris Versteeg should get a discount with moving companies by now.

The former two-time Blackhawks forward approached this latest trade deadline with an open mind because he knew it was damn likely he could be headed elsewhere again.

Sure enough, he was.

“When you stop getting traded is really the time I’m going to worry,” said Versteeg, now with the Los Angeles Kings. “It’s part of the game. But it’s exciting to come to another team that’s a contender. They’re a good team every year with great players, great guys and I’m just trying to help out.”

Versteeg has gotten used to moving around. Since coming to the NHL in 2007, Versteeg has played for the Blackhawks (twice), Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and now the Kings, who will play the Blackhawks tonight at the United Center.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

The forward has always been cognizant of the business side of the league. Versteeg doesn’t sweat this stuff anymore. Still, he’s got other considerations now. He and his wife welcomed their first child last June, and they have another on the way. But Versteeg said his family handles it all well.

“It’s exciting for them, too, to go around and visit new plays, kind of be touristy,” he said. “It’s maybe difficult at the start of the process when you have to move everyone out and have to find a home. Besides that it’s work as usual, and I think they’re happy with that.”

Versteeg is once again part of a contending team. The Kings have won seven of their last 10 games entering tonight and Versteeg isn’t surprised they’ve continued to have success year after year.

“You knew when you were playing the Kings that you had to keep your head up for 60 minutes, or someone was going to try to take it off for you. It’s a team that keeps you honest for an entire game. Now coming in and seeing it first hand, these guys finish every check, they keep other teams honest,” Versteeg said. “Just like every top team, they’re always hungry and determined to be better each game.”

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens


All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: