Friends Krejci, Versteeg look forward to matchups

Friends Krejci, Versteeg look forward to matchups
October 17, 2013, 4:00 pm
Share This Post

SUNRISE, FL – It’s certainly a complicated relationship for David Krejci and Kris Versteeg.

They both came up through the AHL together with the Providence Bruins, and lit up the minor league scoreboards while probably thinking they’d be doing it for years in Boston.

But then Versteeg was dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2007 for Brandon Bochenski in one of the worst deals of Peter Chiarelli’s tenure in Boston. That started the skilled forward down a path that’s seen him play for the Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers during his well-traveled career.

He’s managed three 20-goal seasons during that time, and has found a comfortable home in the hockey market of Florida.

Each time Krejci and Versteeg suit up against each other, it seems there are a little extra emphasis on physicality and a little more stick-work than the run of the mill opponent.

“I love him and I hate him,” said Krejci. “It’s a little bit of both. But [playing together] was a long time ago now.

“It’s a good relationship. I remember him in Providence, and he taught me some things as well. It’s always fun to play ex-teammates. You give a little extra bump, or something like that, so I’m looking forward to the game.”

It wasn’t clear whether Krejci was going to have more “fun” playing against Tim Thomas or Versteeg, but it’s clear the former Bruins farmhand will enjoy the Black and Gold entering the building.

For Versteeg, it’s always a treat to suit up against the Boston organization that drafted him, and a chance to “thank” Krejci as the pivotal playmaking player that helped put him on the NHL map with some big offensive numbers in Providence.

“It’s the team that drafted me. Me and David Krejci, we were friends and we had some good times together in Providence,” said Versteeg, a native of Lethbridge, Alberta. “I have great memories of that organization.

“I had a bit of a rough road there in junior, then I came into Providence and played with [Krejci]. The way me and him found chemistry together and played together, and the points we put up together, it really helped me realize I could play this game…that could play at the top level with top guys.”

Versteeg potted 22 goals in 43 games with Providence before getting dealt to the Blackhawks where he won a Stanley Cup with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews four years ago. It certainly changed Versteeg’s trajectory away from Krejci, who he has marveled at from afar as he’s become a No. 1 center for a Stanley Cup winning team in Boston.

But both guys revert back to desperate, competitive AHL players when they face each other as they will Thursday night at the BB&T Center.