New dad Kris Versteeg enjoys ‘whirlwind’ few days

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TAMPA, Fla. — It wasn’t too long ago that the Blackhawks were just a bunch of kids, more than a few of them a little on the wild side, living it up at home and on the road and winning a Stanley Cup in 2010. Now, even Kris Versteeg’s living the dad life.

“It’s pretty amazing when you look around, with [Dustin Byfuglien] and [Andrew] Ladd and [Ben] Eager and [Colin] Fraser and the list goes on — everyone has kids there, too,” said Versteeg, whose first son, Jaxson James, was born on Monday. “We [were] a bunch of young bucks who liked to have fun, and now everyone’s settled down and raising a family. It’s pretty funny.”

It’s been a “whirlwind” few days for Versteeg. He was on his way to the rink for a skate on Monday when his wife, Brittany, called to tell him she was being induced. Versteeg called the team and was immediately put on a plane to Toronto to be there for the birth. He then hopped back on a plane to Tampa — through Chicago — on Tuesday and skated with the Hawks at Wednesday’s morning skate.

“Within two seconds, I called the team and they did everything for me,” Versteeg said. “It’s amazing what the Blackhawks will do for their players. It means the world to me that they helped me get there and be there.”

Versteeg called being a new dad “exciting and intoxicating,” and even compared it with winning the Stanley Cup.

“You’re in shock,” he said. “You don’t really know what’s going on in the moment, you’ve got to take a step back and really look at it a bit later on and realize how lucky you are and how special it is. The last several hours, seeing pictures and not being able to be with him is tough, but you know you’re here for a reason and right now for myself, I’m just trying to win a Stanley Cup.”

Versteeg has been a healthy scratch for all but one game in the past two rounds, and wasn’t in the top four lines at the morning skate. But he’s trying to stay positive and trying to stay ready, just in case.

“My main focus obviously at the time was the healthy of the kid,” he said. “Your other main focus has to be trying to win the Stanley Cup. It’s a lot to take in. But it’s not hard to separate both. When you’re not at the rink you take care of that, when you’re at the rink, you take care of this. And when you’re not playing, you’ve got to stay ready and be ready to play whenever.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com

Twitter: @marklazerus

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