ROCKFORD – Forward Kris Versteeg has been named Rockford IceHogs captain for the 2019-20 season, coach Derek King announced Wednesday.
“It was a pretty special moment,” Versteeg said of when King told him he’d be wearing a C on his sweater this year. “It’s been a long time since I had a letter or wore anything. I don’t expect to change who I am or anything like that, but it’s a moment I am going to remember in hockey for a long time. It was emotional.”
Versteeg, 33, is entering his 16th season of professional hockey. The veteran forward has skated in 643 career NHL games during his pro career and 139 AHL contests, including 56 games with Rockford during the 2007-08 season. Versteeg was named to the NHL All-Rookie team during his first full season in the NHL in 2008-09 and won two Stanley Cup championships during his five-season tenure with the Blackhawks. Overall, he has helped his team reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in eight of his 11 seasons in the NHL.
The Lethbridge, Alberta native was originally selected by Boston in the fifth round (134th overall) of the 2004 NHL Draft. He has combined for 358 points (149g, 209a) in 643 career NHL games between Chicago (2007-10, 2013-15), Toronto (2010-11), Philadelphia (2010-11), Florida (2011-14), Carolina (2015-16), Los Angeles (2015-16) and Calgary (2016-18) and 127 points (46g, 81a) in 139 career AHL games between Providence (2005-07), Norfolk (2006-07) and Rockford (2007-08).
Versteeg is the 11th team captain during the IceHogs’ AHL affiliation. He joins Jim Fahey (2007-08), Tim Brent (2008-09), Dowell (2009-10, 2015-17), Garnet Exelby (2010-11), Brandon Segal (2011-12), Brian Fahey (2011-12), Martin St. Pierre (2012-13), Jared Nightingale (2013-14), Joakim Nordstrom (2014-15) and Brandon Mashinter (2015-16).
In addition to naming Versteeg captain, King also announced that forwards Matthew Highmore, Jacob Nilsson and Tyler Sikura will serve as alternate captains.
Highmore, 23, is entering his third season with the IceHogs. He was named the team’s Rookie of the Year during the 2017-18 season and served as the Hogs’ alternate captain during the 2018-19 campaign.
Nilsson, 25, is entering his second season with Rockford. The forward was named last year’s team MVP after logging 32 points (15g, 17a) in 61 games and netted the IceHogs’ lone hat trick on the year with three goals on three shots on Jan. 6 vs. Iowa.
Sikura, 27, is entering his third season with the Hogs. He was named Rockford’s MVP of the 2017-18 season and the team’s Unsung Hero of the 2018-19 campaign. Sikura also served as an alternate captain last season.