Chris Kunitz played 15 years in the NHL. He won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins (2009, 2016, 2017) and one Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks (2007). He was a stalwart, a locker room leader, and a grinder with a scoring touch on the ice. Tuesday, Kunitz announced his retirement after one season with the Chicago Blackhawks and will join the Chicago coaching staff.
Kunitz may be best remembered for his double-OT winner in Game 7 of the 2017 Eastern Conference Final. His knuckling shot fooled Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson and the Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final and eventually the second of back-to-back championships.
Kunitz, 39 was a frequent linemate of Sidney Crosby during his time in Pittsburgh from the trade deadline of 2009 to his departure after the 2017 season. He played 569 of his 1022 NHL games with the Penguins and scored 388 points (169g, 219a).
The undrafted free agent set career highs in 2013-14 with 35 goals and 68 points. Kunitz was selected to the Canadian Olympic team with Crosby in 2014. Kunitz also scored 40 points or more in 10 of his first 11 full seasons.
Kunitz released a statement via press release Tuesday, “I feel very fortunate to have been a part of four amazing organizations over the last 15 years. I’d like to sincerely thank the Anaheim Ducks, the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. Every one of these organizations was the ultimate example, not only to me but to my children, on what true professionalism should be.”
Last season Kuntiz was occasionally a healthy scratch and totaled just 10 points in 56 games with Chicago. Among those 56 games was his 1000th NHL game for which Chicago honored him. He will join the new Blackhawks coaching staff led by Jeremy Colliton, who took over for Joel Quenneville in mid-season.
“While coaching him last year, I recognized what an asset he would be for our staff and the organization,” Colliton said in the release.
Kunitz will work with players on the NHL and AHL level. He’ll join former players Brian Campbell and Mark Eaton in that role. Eaton was also a member of the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup-winning team with Kunitz.