Few 25 year old NHL players have had careers as interesting as that of Kris Versteeg. Sure, there are guys who’ve done some great things early, but Versteeg has definitely had a weird past couple years.
After some good seasons and eventually a Stanley Cup win in Chicago, he was sent to the “center of the hockey universe” in Toronto, wasn’t given a fair shake (or at least he and many others believe), got dealt to Philadelphia and didn’t do much of anything, and now is producing big time in Florida.
We knew something was up with Versteeg when he was sent packing out of Leafland and basically couldn’t wait to jump on the plane. And in the past few days he’s made some comments that sort of paint the picture as to why things didn’t work out with our beloved Maple Leafs.
From the Sun Sentinal:
…Toronto was next. He was 23.
“They said how I was a screw that didn’t fit their screwdriver,” he said. “I was put on the third-line with AHL players. Wasn’t used on power plays. There’s no reason to get into all of it. But they had lost a lot of draft picks, and they could trade me for some draft picks. So I was gone.”
To Philadelphia this time. To the third line again. This was the middle of last season. He still finished off his third straight year of scoring 20-plus goals.
“I got along great with the coach, and the organizaiton, and they asked me what I thought I was capable of doing,” Versteeg said. “They told me I’d be in their plans. This was at the year-end meeting. Two months later, I was traded.”
Funny how he barks out the Leafs for throwing him on the third line, but gives Philadelphia lots of love despite playing in essentially the same role. Regardless, he’s sort of right regarding Toronto. I’m not sure I can disagree.
So what are your thoughts? Is Versteeg correct in his assessment of how he was handled in Toronto, or is this just a guy who’s sour because of a run-in with a coach or management?
Many Leafs followers I’ve talked with believe Versteeg wasn’t given a fair shake, but others will say he didn’t earn one anyway.