Family Made it All Possible
In the summer of 2012, the Galt Museum & Archives developed the exhibit “Champions & Challenges in Sports”, which explored the challenges and successes of local sports personalities including athletes, coaches and managers, officials, sponsors, game announcers, casual athletes, and fans. We will take a monthly look back at these personalities, starting with NHL hockey player Kris Versteeg.
Kristopher Versteeg stepped onto the ice for the first time when he was 14 months old at the Adams Ice Rink in Lethbridge. When he joined organized hockey at the age of 6, his father Roy was his coach. Kris progressed through minor hockey and then played three seasons with the Hurricanes before moving on to other WHL and AHL teams. In 2007, Versteeg joined the Chicago Blackhawks and played left wing on their 2010 Stanley Cup winning team. He then played with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, and Florida Panthers before being traded back to the Blackhawks.
One of the biggest influences in Kris’ early hockey career was Todd MacIsacc, who played for the Hurricanes and was billeted next door. They played street hockey together and Todd taught Kris a great deal about the game of hockey. Steve Yzerman, long time Captain of the Detroit Red Wings, was Kris’ favourite NHL hockey player. A fellow Canadian, Yzerman was sixth all time leading scorer in NHL history, won several major awards, and four Stanley Cups.
Kris’ mother always supported his love of hockey, but as a single parent she struggled with the associated costs. Her parents bought equipment for Kris and his two brothers; without that support Kris feels he wouldn’t be in the NHL today. He has not forgotten the city of his youth, nor the financial concerns his mother experienced in supporting him and his two brothers in their hockey. He donates money and equipment to teams and sends signed merchandise to charity auctions to keep sport affordable. When Kris had his day with the Stanley Cup he brought it to Lethbridge and played a game of street hockey with friends and brothers.
Bring your family to see the Galt’s next special exhibit, “Voices from the Engraver”, on loan from the Bank of Canada Museum February 7-May 18. For details, visit www.galtmuseum.com.