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Versteeg rejoins Blackhawks following birth of child

by Arpon Basu

TAMPA -- The Stanley Cup Final can be an overwhelming experience, even if you've been through it before.

Compared to what Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg has just experienced, however, it should be a breeze.

Versteeg arrived in Tampa to join his teammates Tuesday after flying to Toronto on Monday to be with his wife, Brittany, as she gave birth to the couple's first child, a son, Jaxson James Versteeg.

"It's been a whirlwind," Versteeg said. "I said in hockey I've been able and fortunate to be a part of some great things, but nothing really compares to the birth of your child. It's been exciting and intoxicating, but now it's about getting ready for hockey."

Versteeg will not play against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

He said he got a call from his wife as he was on his way to the United Center in Chicago on Monday that the birth was going to be induced and he needed to get to Toronto. Versteeg's next call was to the Blackhawks, and the team immediately jumped into action.

"Within two seconds I called the team and they did everything for me," Versteeg said. "It's amazing what the Blackhawks do for their players. It means the world to me that they helped me get there and be there. I couldn't ask for more from the organization. It was amazing they helped get me there within a couple of hours and be there for the birth."

Having now gone through the experience of seeing the birth of his child, Versteeg compared it to something else he has already lived through and hopes to do again very soon.

"You always hear people talk about it and now finally being a part of it, it's special," he said. "It's in a different way [like] when you win the Stanley Cup, 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 [it's] just trying to win a Stanley Cup."

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