Blackhawks still high on Kris Versteeg despite playoffs struggles
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter June 3, 2014 8:58PM
Updated: July 5, 2014 6:35AM
The Blackhawks aren’t giving up on Kris Versteeg. Not yet, anyway.
The 28-year-old forward, who had six goals and 14 points and was a plus-4 in the Hawks’ 2010 run to the Stanley Cup, was reacquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers in November. But he struggled to find the same postseason groove this year — he had one goal, three points and was a minus-5 in the playoffs. In the Western Conference final against the Kings, Versteeg had no points and was a minus-4. He was a healthy scratch in Game 6 and played only 3:44 in Game 7.
But Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said he still sees Versteeg, who had offseason knee surgery last year, as part of the team’s future.
“He was coming off the injury last summer — probably didn’t get the full recovery time that every athlete needs when you have an injury like that,” Bowman said Tuesday at the United Center.
“Often times it takes you a full year to be back completely. I think it’s important for him to have a good summer and come back refreshed. He’s comfortable with our group here and the way we play, so I’m really excited for that as we move forward.”
Defenseman Nick Leddy is hoping to “turn the page” after being victimized on the Kings’ winning goal in Game 7 — a shot by Alec Martinez that bounced off him and over Corey Crawford’s shoulder into the net in overtime.
“There were bad bounces the whole game, but for that one to hit off me — my wrist and then my side and then go in — definitely didn’t feel good,” Leddy said.
“It would bother anybody, but you have to move on from it. Obviously I want to win the Stanley Cup, and I want to win it every year. It just took an unfortunate bounce.”
The Hawks need depth at center, but Bowman said they will not rush 19-year-old Teuvo Teravainen, who played in three regular-season games in 2013-14.
“We’re very excited about Teuvo, but we’re not going to put any pressure on him,” Bowman said. “One thing we have done very well here over the past few years is we’ve given players time to develop. We haven’t put players in position to fail. And we’re not going to do that with Teuvo. He’s a special player, and he’s going to be here for a long time.”
Overlooked in the Hawks’ demise was the diminishing production from forward Marian Hossa in the conference final. Hossa had two goals and 11 points in a six-game stretch against the Blues and Wild. But in the final five games against the Kings, Hossa had zero points and was a minus-5.
“I was not happy with what I produced goal-wise,” Hossa said. “With so many scoring chances and scoring shots, I couldn’t score. It was definitely frustrating for me.”
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Hossa was 0-for-28 on shots on goal against the Kings and 0-for-41 in the final 12 games of the postseason.
“It’s going to bug me because maybe one bounce and sometimes things go in a different way when you score,” he said. “As a goal-scorer, you score one goal and all of a sudden, things change.”