ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) AHL players will do anything to get to the NHL.
Kris Versteeg understands that better than anybody after getting the call-up more than a decade ago to the Blackhawks, but being back in the minors has made him realize a few things.
His second stint in Rockford is a little bit different with all of the younger players looking up to him for leadership and advice.
In six games this season, the IceHogs captain has recorded just one assist, but he says he's trying to take it easy in order to last for the long haul.
The 33-year-old says that if he had not come back to the AHL, he might not have ever known what it truly takes to make your dream come true.
"You don't realize these guys are literally killing each other to get a shot in the NHL," said Versteeg. "I don't think I really realized that until I've been on the bench sitting next to them and it kind of made me realize what I went through to get there. If you haven't played pro sports and haven't tried to get to that pinnacle level, I don't think you quite understand, but for me coming back and seeing these guys laying out and laying their bodies on the line, it's been an eye opener for me that these guys are fighting for their lives every day."