We are pretty sure this is not how veteran forward Kris Versteeg imagined things would turn out when he parted ways with the Calgary Flames this past summer. In August, the 32-year-old unrestricted free agent winger and locker-room favourite was off to Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League, inking a deal for the 2018-19 season.
This chapter of his life story might already be over.
On Tuesday, Sport-Express' hockey writer Igor Eronko revealed that Versteeg is expected to leave Avangard to return to North America.
It did not take much time for other insiders to speculate on the reasons behind his departure, with Hockey Buzz writer and KHL insider Aivis Kalnins hinting that his wife could be, once again, behind his decision to part ways with a team.
However, NHL insider Darren Dreger of TSN revealed something even more serious that could be pushing Versteeg to get some much needed help in America. According to Dreger, Versteeg was sick and had been diagnosed with shingles, and was trapped in a living hell with the virus.
For those who are unfamiliar with the virus, here is a medical explanation on what it means to be dealing with the painful symptoms of Shingles, as explained by the Mayo Clinic:
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
While it isn't a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.
Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some, it can be intense. Depending on the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash.
Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of your torso. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.
As mentioned by the Mayo Clinic, early treatment can help lessen the chances of complications, which might be one of the main reasons why Versteeg has chosen to move back to North America.
Versteeg broke into the NHL back in 2007-08 and has played 643 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Philadelphia Flyers, the Florida Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Los Angeles Kings and the Flames. He has two Stanley Cup rings, hoisting the prestigious trophy with the Blackhawks in 2010 and 2015.
Let's hope Versteeg gets better, and who knows, he might gather the interest of teams in the NHL once again...