Four-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Kunitz has retired after 15 NHL seasons and joined the Blackhawks hockey operations department as a player development adviser to assist the organization’s NHL and AHL coaching staffs, the team announced Tuesday.
Kunitz, 39, played this past season on a one-year, $1 million contract for the Blackhawks, producing five goals and 10 points in 56 games. The highlight of his season came Feb. 14 when he played in his 1,000th NHL game.
Kunitz, who started his career with Anaheim as an undrafted free agent out of Ferris State, had 619 points (263 goals, 346 assists) in 1,022 NHL games with the Blackhawks, Lightning, Penguins, Thrashers and Ducks. He had 93 points (27 goals, 66 assists) in 178 playoff games, and won four Stanley Cup championships (Anaheim-2007; Pittsburgh-2009, 2016, 2017). He also won an Olympic gold medal with Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of four amazing organizations over the last 15 years,” Kunitz said in a press release. “First and foremost, 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.
“Secondly, I’d like to thank the owners, coaches, trainers, management. Your love for the game, the team and the community was exemplified daily. I am very fortunate to have worked with every one of you.
“Finally, to my teammates, thank you for everything. As a young player you taught me to give my very best. Your leadership helped mold me into the player I knew I could be. I was given the opportunity to play with the very best teams and the very best players and I’m grateful for the laughs and the friendships that we shared together. Thank you for making my childhood dream come true.”
Kunitz took his first public step in his new role earlier this month when he was seen with Blackhawks front office and NHL coaching staff at the team’s development camp at Fifth Third Arena.
“Chris had an outstanding professional career,” Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “His four Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medal speak for themselves. While coaching him last year, I recognized what an asset he would be for our staff and the organization. I’m very pleased to have him a part of our coaching group and, also, use him as a development resource for our young players in Rockford.”