Versteeg shines in happy return to Chicago

CHICAGO -- Kris Versteeg envisioned a triumphant weekend return to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Saturday was his first game back in a Blackhawks uniform. Sunday was his first game returning to the United Center in Chicago. He hoped both would be successful.

In the end, he had to be satisfied with the latter.

Versteeg’s debut with the team resulted in a 7-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday, but he redeemed himself Sunday with a goal and an assist in a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks before the home crowd on Sunday.

Blackhawks fans welcomed him back with cheers when his name was first announced. The last time he played for the Blackhawks in Chicago was during the Stanley Cup finals in 2010.

“It was emotional obviously coming back for myself,” said Versteeg, who was acquired from the Florida Panthers on Thursday. “Last night wasn’t definitely the way I saw coming back in my head. Tonight was very exciting.

“I played once here with the Panthers, but the last time I was back was Game 5 [of the 2010 finals]. That was really my last memories of the UC. Tonight was special. Best fans in the world here. It was exciting.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Versteeg’s teammates were also happy for him.

“Steeger getting his first goals with the Hawks, I’m sure he’s excited to be back as well,” Quenneville said.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said, “It was cool. The crowd gave him a little bit of a cheer there when they put his face on the screen and announced his name. I know he’s happy to be back. He’s going to be a big part of our team.”

Versteeg almost felt as if he had never left.

“I remember when I was here in 2010 I think every guy that came here felt right at home when they came here,” Versteeg said. “The other guys here made [me] feel real comfortable right way.”