Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom return to Chicago


Blackhawks: Kris Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom return to Chicago

Kris Versteeg walked through the United Center once again as a visiting player on Sunday.

It’s another reunion game of sorts as the Blackhawks face Versteeg, Joakim Nordstrom and the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday night. The trade, which came in mid-September, has meant more opportunity for both players – Versteeg has been playing on Carolina’s top line and Nordstrom is part of the second line. Both have settled into their new surroundings nicely and both enjoyed coming back to Chicago, especially Versteeg.

“Chicago has always been a second home to me. I have a lot of great friends here even away from the game, a lot of great people I’ve met, so I know they’re excited to be here tonight to watch as well,” he said. “It’s always a very special feeling for me to come back. I’m excited about everything I’ve been a part of in my past and excited to be here today.”

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Versteeg has gone through trades several times now, so he wasn’t stunned when it happened again this offseason. Unlike in 2010, when he was traded soon after the Blackhawks won that Cup, this time Versteeg said he “was enjoying the whole process of winning, realizing how special it was and letting the business take care of itself and not worry about it so much.”

For Nordstrom, who had signed his one-year deal the week before he and Versteeg were traded to Carolina, it was more unexpected.

“I think the negotiations with my contract took some time over the summer, then obviously your head starts spinning a little bit. When it happened, of course I was surprised,” he said. “But I’m happy it happened, because I really like my opportunity in Carolina.”

Nordstrom has been playing steadier minutes lately, around 15-16 minutes per game. He recorded a goal and an assist, the first multi-point game of his career, in a 3-1 victory over New Jersey on Saturday night.

“I spent five years here with this organization,” Nordstrom said of the Blackhawks. “It’s always tough getting traded the first time but I saw a good opportunity in it and welcomed it.”

[MORE: Blackhawks return from holiday break with another busy stretch ahead]

Versteeg and Nordstrom’s time with the Blackhawks ended on a winning note. They then contributed a few notes of their own with their Stanley Cupparade rap at Soldier Field. Trades happen, and the one involving them led to bigger opportunities for both. But Chicago will still hold a special place.

“I’ve always tried to not think too much about the past and what could have been; I had a great time here,” Versteeg said. “I still have a lot of really good friends on that team and friends around the league I played in Chicago with, so I’m just extremely fortunate to even have been given the opportunity.”

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule


Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.