Florida Panthers Facebook Florida Panthers Twitter Florida Panthers Google+ Florida Panthers Pintrest Florida Panthers Instagram Florida Panthers
  • RSS

Florida Contingent Of Ex-Hawks Set To Face Them

Thursday, 11.3.2011 / 3:16 PM ET / Features
By Alain Poupart  - NHL.com Correspondent
Share with your Friends

Florida Contingent Of Ex-Hawks Set To Face Them
By Alain Poupart | NHL.com correspondent

-- Brian Campbell and Kris Versteeg did their best Thursday morning to talk about Thursday night's game against Chicago as just another game.

Clearly, it's not.

Campbell and Versteeg both were important parts of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup title team, and they'll be facing their former teammates for the first time as members of the Florida Panthers.

"It's always good, it's a game that you kind of see and look at," Campbell said after Thursday's morning skate. "Obviously it's a big game, but there's a lot at stake for any team in every game. It'll be fun, some good memories and some good guys over there."

Campbell was traded to the Panthers in the offseason in exchange for forward Rostislav Olesz.

Versteeg, meanwhile, has been traded three times since helping the Hawks win the Cup. He was sent to Toronto last offseason, shipped to Philadelphia in February and then sent to the Panthers this summer.

He didn't get to face the Blackhawks last season because Toronto played Chicago after Versteeg was traded to Philly, and the Flyers already had played the Blackhawks.


Hasek thinking comeback

Michael Langr - NHL.com Correspondent
Even if Dominik Hasek isn't tending the crease at the moment, the goaltending great hasn't given up the idea of resuming his career and is keeping himself quite active in the meantime. READ MORE ›
"It's going to be nice to see those guys," Versteeg said, "but mainly it's just about getting the two points tonight."

In addition to Campbell and Versteeg, the Panthers' roster includes two other former Chicago players -- forwards Tomas Kopecky and Jack Skille.

Kopecky was a regular skater on the Hawks' title team, but Skille played only six games that season and didn't appear in the playoffs. The Panthers acquired Kopecky's rights from the Hawks this summer before re-signing him to a new contract.

Only nine players remain from Chicago's title team -- Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland, Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane -- so facing former teammates is nothing new for this year's Hawks, who are off to an impressive 7-2-2 start.

"Similar situation, just a different team," Sharp said. "You know that there's going to be motivation on their side, ours as well. We want to continue what we have going here. They have good players that used to play for our team on their side, so we've got to be aware of them out there and really just once the game starts it's business as usual."

While the players on both teams understand the business side of the game and the inevitability of trades, Versteeg doesn't hide the fact he was sad to see the Blackhawks broken apart after their Stanley Cup parade.

"It's sad that none of us were together after we won," said Versteeg, who saw a lot of his former teammates this summer at the wedding of Andrew Ladd, another member of that team now playing for the Winnipeg Jets. "It was tough on everybody because we wanted to talk about the time we went through and obviously no one was there to do it. There were about 10 guys raising that banner over there. It was really sad on our part. It was nice to see those guys this summer."

Versteeg's new team has gotten off to a 6-4-1 start, Florida's best October mark since 2005-06. And the Chicago connection has played a major role.

Campbell and Versteeg are tied for the team lead with 11 points, with Campbell tied for second in the league with 11 assists. Kopecky, meanwhile, has 1 goal and 5 assists.

More importantly, the former Hawks have brought a winning attitude to the locker room.

"To last that long once the playoffs start, you get through a couple of series and, boy you're only halfway there," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "For them to go the distance, it just adds character to your team. That's what we want as part of our make-up is guys that know what it takes to win, and not only do they know personally, but they are more than willing to share that with teammates and to be example setters. Everything we've asked of them, they've certainly provided that kind of leadership and that kind of play."

There's no question Campbell, Versteeg, Kopecky and Skille will want to be at their best facing their former teammates. Versteeg said he was particularly looking forward to playing against Kane and Toews.

"I've never played against them, but I look forward to playing against them," Versteeg said. "They're special players, but I look forward to being on the other team now and playing against them and seeing the other aspect of what they bring to a game."

Kane is looking forward to the on-ice reunion as well.

"They're great guys," he said. "You bond with them a lot from the past couple of seasons. You wish them all the best, but at the same time you've still got to get down to business and try to win a game for our team. It'll be fun out there. I'm sure there'll be some laughs. It's still the NHL, though, you've still got to play against them."

Author: Alain Poupart | NHL.com Correspondent




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

FloridaPanthers.com is the official Web site of the Florida Panthers. Florida Panthers and floridapanthers.com are trademarks of the Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd.
NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks and NHL Draft name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as a
ll other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Florida Panthers Hockey Club, Ltd and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.