NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kris Versteeg sat in the corner of the Nashville visiting locker room looking more rested than he did when he arrived in Chicago on Friday. Patrick Sharp sat nearby talking about his return.
“It’s good and bad,” Sharp said to laughs. “We’re happy to have him back. It’s nice to see a familiar face in the room and catch up on old stories.”
When Versteeg returns to the Blackhawks’ lineup tonight against the Predators, he’ll probably be feeling a few things. He’ll be excited, certainly; that emotion was evident on Friday when he talked about returning to the club he never wanted to leave. There’ll probably be some nerves, too. It just comes with the new-team (even if it’s the old team) territory.
But teammates figure he’ll come out of his shell, in the locker room and on the ice, soon.
“He’s been quiet so far. It’s like it’s not even Versteeg yet. We're waiting for him to come out of the woodwork a little bit,” Patrick Kane said with a laugh. “You can see the skill he has and the plays he can make. We’re happy to have him back; it’s good for our lineup and good for him.”
Coach Joel Quenneville doesn’t doubt Versteeg’s readiness. Or even his giddiness.
“I think Steeger’s probably excited as heck. He’s getting back with his former teammates, and it’s a good re-acquaintance for all of us,” he said. “He gives us an element that line can really appreciate. He has good play recognition, patience with the puck. With us, it’s not trying to make plays all the time. Just simplicity, sometimes, can help our team. With Steeger, we want to make sure he’s doing the right things to complement our team.”
Mike Kostka (lower body) and Michal Handzus (upper body) will get back on the ice “in a little bit,” Queneville said Saturday morning. Quenneville didn’t know if the two will travel at the start of the circus trip.
Predators forward Eric Nystrom suffered an upper-body injury against Pittsburgh Friday night and will not play Saturday.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne (hip) will have another MRI in a few weeks. He’s continuing on antibiotics, but his timetable is still a few weeks.