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Kunitz retires as player, hired by Blackhawks in player development

Forward won Stanley Cup four times in 15-season career

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

Chris Kunitz retired as a player after 15 seasons in the NHL on Tuesday and was hired by the Chicago Blackhawks as a player development adviser.

The 39-year-old is a four-time Stanley Cup champion and will assist the coaching staffs of the Blackhawks and Rockford of the American Hockey League.

Kunitz said he and the Blackhawks discussed him joining the coaching staff at exit meetings in April.

"We had bought a home during the season in the western suburbs; we knew that I wasn't going to go on and play further into my career," Kunitz said Wednesday. "We obviously like the Chicago area, my wife being from here, and we thought it would be a great way to transition into a different phase of life. Still wanting to be at home with the kids and not be full time and things like that, we found a way to find a position to make that work, and hopefully it'll work for both sides."

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said Kunitz had "an outstanding professional career. 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."

Kunitz, a forward who was undrafted and signed as a free agent by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003, had 619 points (268 goals, 351 assists) in 1,022 NHL games with the Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Blackhawks. He had 93 points (27 goals, 66 assists) in 178 Stanley Cup Playoff games and won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks (2007) and three times with the Penguins (2009, 2016 and 2017).

With the Penguins, Kunitz had 388 points (169 goals, 219 assists) in 569 games and developed a rapport with Sidney Crosby.

"He's a person who wants to speed through the middle of the ice, he wants the puck, and I always found it easier to give it to a really good centerman who wants the puck than to carry it myself," Kunitz said. "I think it was just the way we thought about the game, and then the evolutions of a friendship of being on a team together so long. Obviously, you try to make the most of it when you can play with an unbelievable talent with Sid."

Kunitz had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 56 games with the Blackhawks last season. He said he'll miss competing on the ice.

"I don't think most guys miss the skating in the summer and the working out to try and withstand a long season, but I think it's those little moments that you're on the bench or you're on the ice when you can rally around each other and have that fire growing inside you to be at your best," Kunitz said. "I think that's something you can never get back, so I'm sure I'm going to miss those things the most."

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