Versteeg feeling right at home again with Hawks
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It's no surprise to the Blackhawks that Kris Versteeg, here trying to get a shot on Devils goalie Cory Schneider, has fit right in with the team a month after his return.
Ask Kris Versteeg what he has noticed since his return to the Blackhawks a month ago, and you shouldn't be surprised when he gives an honest, funny answer because, well, that's Steeger.
"The guys have grown up; they've gotten older," Versteeg said. "Kaner and Tazer, these guys aren't boys anymore; they're becoming men.
"Physically now, they're not hairless-faced little runts running around. They've got a little bit of scruff on them now," he said with a laugh.
Seems like he's never been away, huh?
But he has been, leaving for Toronto after being part of the Hawks' 2010 Cup winning team. Then it was off to Philadelphia, and then Florida for a while before returning to Chicago last month in a trade that sent Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen to the Panthers.
And, no surprise here, it didn't take him long to feel at home again with the Blackhawks.
"Everyone's happy to have him here, doesn't matter if you were here in 2010 or not," Patrick Sharp said a few days after Versteeg's return. "Everyone knows what kind of player Steeger is.
"He's a great guy for the locker room, too. He's already making guys laugh, so he's fitting right in."
Though he quickly became one of the guys again, Versteeg admits his comfort level on the ice wasn't exactly where he wanted it to be early on.
"The last 10 games or so I've started to feel comfortable; the nerves aren't there all the time anymore," said Versteeg, who lately has been skating alongside Michal Handzus and Patrick Kane. "Before that, it was just trying to fit in and trying to help out however you can. Still now, it's trying to fit in on whatever line your on.
"It's a winning team and you want to help them keep winning and doing whatever you can to keep them winning, so you figure out your role as fast as you can."
The numbers indicate he's fitting in just fine, thank you.
Versteeg posted an assist against New Jersey on Monday, and he has 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in his last 10 games.
And though he's far from a grizzled veteran at 27, Versteeg said he has matured in his time away.
"It's my seventh year in the league, and it really flies by," said Versteeg, who appears as the Eminem character in "8 Mile" on the Hawks' delightful holiday video on the team's website.
"I don't really look at myself as being any different than I was five or six years ago. I just try to be myself and be an approachable person. Guys can come and talk to me anytime.
"When I was in Florida I had younger guys live with me. You just try to take guys under your wing, help then out whenever you can. "But it's not like I'm going to go out of my way and be someone different. I'm just going to be myself."
Nothing wrong with that.
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