ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) In a little more than a season as IceHogs head coach, Jeremy Colliton did not name a captain and when Derek King took over last year, he did not make any changes. But with one man stepping foot back into the building, the coaching staff figured he would be the best fit to lead this young group.
In a team meeting early Wednesday, King announced Kris Versteeg as Rockford's captain for the 2019-20 season with Jacob Nilsson, Tyler Sikura and Matthew Highmore as alternates.
Versteeg becomes the Hogs' first commander since Jake Dowell in 2017 and it's the first time in his 14 year pro career that he's had a letter on his chest.
Versteeg says he was not expecting to be named captain especially in the locker room without even a shirt on, but he will remember this for a long time.
"It was a pretty special moment," said Versteeg. "It's been a long time since I ever had a letter or wore anything. I don't expect to change who I am or anything like that, but it was a moment I'm going to remember in hockey for a long time."
"I love his personality, he's a character, but he's a hell of a hockey player and still has compete in him and I think that's the big thing," said King. "He competes hard enough where our guys need to follow him if he's going to lead by example. Plus, I think they respect him as a person and as a teammate which helps."