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.”
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.”