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BREAKING: Big Jeff Carter Calls it a Career; ‘It Was Time’



Pittsburgh Penguins, Jeff Carter retires

ELMONT, NY — With his 442nd career goal in tow and a chance to be feted on the ice by his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates, forward Jeff Carter bid farewell to his NHL career Wednesday night.

“This was it. I kind of knew coming in at the start of the year that this would be it,” said Carter, 39, who scored in the Penguins’ season-ending 5-4 loss to the Islanders in New York.

“It was time. … I’ve had a blast.”

There were signs he was going to announce his retirement before he left the ice.

His family was in the stands during the game and came down to the bench area at the end of the game. Official Wes McCauley shook Carter’s hand at the end of the game.

Then his Penguins teammates lingered by the bench, formed a circle, and gave him stick taps as he was named the game’s No. 3 star — likely a stick tap in itself from the Islanders.

“That was really nice of them,” Carter said, adding that it was a “pretty special moment to get”a goal in his final game. “Something I’ll remember for sure.”

He began his career with Philadelphia in 2005-06 after being a Flyers first-round draft pick in 2003, played briefly with Columbus, and won two Stanley Cups with Los Angeles before coming to the Penguins in a trade during the 2020-21 season.

Taking on the moniker Big Jeff Carter, he played various roles in his three-plus seasons. His game faltered some, but he settled in nicely as a fourth-liner and penalty-killer this season when he had 11 goals and 15 points in 72 games.

Carter’s contract ended with the conclusion of this season.

Not only did the Islanders line up to shake Carter’s hand following the game, his teammates processed over to his locker stall at UBS Arena for more hugs and goodbyes.

Carter then addressed the media, confirming the decision that he kept from most teammates to avoid distracting them from the playoff race.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan praised Carter’s value to the team, from adapting to a role as a penalty killer and fourth-liner taking important faceoffs to his presence in the room. Sullivan offered tangible praise, drawing comparisons to Matt Cullen, who was known in the Penguins’ locker room as “Dad.”

“I looked at him these last couple of years almost as an extension of our coaching staff. He reminds me of teh Matt Cullen types … just a voice of reason. A great leader in the dressing room, on the bench, between periods,” said coach Sullivan. “I think he was a great help to (Sidney Crosby) and our leadership group. I think ‘Carts’ will excel in any aspect of hockey operations, whatever he chooses to do. He’s a student of the game … If he wants to coach, I’m sure he would be a great coach.”

Carter said he doesn’t have clear retirement plans other than “I’m going to be at home and be a dad for a while.”

He said he and his family are remaining in Pittsburgh and noted that the trade to the Penguins “I think gave me a couple extra years” in his career. “It’s been great.”


*Shelly Anderson wrote the initial report. Dan Kingerski added video and additional reaction from UBS Arena.