NEW YORK -- Kris Versteeg has enjoyed an interesting NHL career.
McDonald: You have another new home with the Hurricanes, how is the season going so far?
Versteeg: It's been great. It's always a bit of an adjustment when you come to a new team. I think the last five or six games I'm starting to play better now, understand everyone and the system and the way you need to succeed in this game plan.
McDonald: You've played for so many different teams in your career, what's it like to learn new systems and new teammates?
Versteeg: Well, it's exciting, I guess. Sometimes it's tough because you feel like maybe at times you're not wanted or something like that, but at other times a team takes you on so you feel wanted again. It's kind of a Catch-22 type thing, but I feel like everywhere I've gone I've tried to play my best and I probably played my best hockey in Chicago and in Florida, especially that first year [2011-12 season] when we went to the playoffs, but I've been in a lot of different markets from the biggest market in hockey to a team like Florida that obviously doesn't get the support maybe they would like, but it was still a great experience. Each and every experience is special and I try to enjoy it each and every time.
McDonald: You mentioned Florida, how close are they to becoming a playoff contender?
Versteeg: I don't really know. I don't pay attention too much. I do know that [Aleksander] Barkov, when we played them at the start of the season, he's a special player. He's a big guy, a big, strong talent -- a lot like Anze Kopitar, by the way they skate and handle the puck for big men. I'm sure they're a good, young team, but I don't pay too much attention.
McDonald: When you look at your two separate stints in Chicago, how special was it?
Versteeg: Yeah, it was special. It was the team that I broke into the league with and had really good years. I played arguably my best hockey ever in that Stanley Cup run in 2010, so that was real special. Then for them to bring me back [in the 2013-14 season], I remember we were playing San Jose my first night back, and the fans stood up and gave me a nice ovation. It was actually one of the most memorable, next to winning a Stanley Cup, it was [one of] the most memorable nights of my life, realizing that the fans actually remembered you and I know I'm never going to be a Hall of Famer, or a player like that, but to have people remember you for what you did and what you accomplished was amazing. In 2015, again I was back to being where I wanted to be healthy-wise and I was almost a point a game before I broke my hand, and it was unfortunate to get hurt and then in the playoffs get hurt again, but just to be a part of it again and win it and help out, especially in Game 5 was special.
McDonald: How often do you think of the trade from Boston to Chicago in 2007?
Versteeg: Oh, yeah. I think about that actually. I remember at the time I got my hockey career back on track, I was playing very good in Providence [AHL] and was enjoying my time playing with special talent like David Krejci, so I thought it was my shot to do it and then I got traded and it was kind of out of the blue. I mean, it ended up working out in the end but I love Boston. I remember even when I was getting interviewed in Manchester up in the stands after I was traded, I said "I'm sure one day I might return back to Boston, maybe as a player or coach, who really knows?" It really did make an impression on myself and my career.
McDonald: Noah Hanifin is an 18-year-old rookie and the No. 5 overall pick from last June's draft, what do you think of his transition to the NHL game?
Versteeg: I could not imagine playing in the league at 18. I started when I was 21 and even then I was pretty young, I felt. You're pretty much awestruck the first bit of the season, so for an 18-year-old to come in with as much poise and confidence as he has is pretty amazing. I think it's a trend throughout the league, especially with these young guys coming in now and they're not really that scared and it probably has to do with the way the game is going with the clutching and grabbing and head shots being out, so it lets those 18-year-olds be a little more free and they're getting their chances. A guy like Noah, he's been amazing.