Chris Kunitz

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Chris Kunitz
Chris Kunitz 2018-05-21 1.jpg
Kunitz with the Lightning in 2018
Born (1979-09-26) September 26, 1979 (age 38)
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Chicago Blackhawks
Anaheim Ducks
Atlanta Thrashers
Pittsburgh Penguins
Tampa Bay Lightning
National team  Canada
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 2003–present

Christopher Kunitz (born September 26, 1979) is a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has previously played for the Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks, where he won his first Stanley Cup in 2007, the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he won his second, third and fourth Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017 and the Tampa Bay Lightning. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Playing career[edit]

College and junior[edit]

Kunitz played Junior A in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) with the Melville Millionaires for two seasons before joining the NCAA college ranks with the Ferris State Bulldogs in 1999–00. After a 79-point campaign in his senior year, he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 2003 (given to Peter Sejna), the same year Ferris State made it to the Division I Regional Finals, just missing out on the Frozen Four. He was part of the first Ferris State team to make a NCAA Tournament appearance (now joined by the 2011–2012, 2013–14, 2015-16 squads).[1]

Professional[edit]

Anaheim Ducks[edit]

Kunitz was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on April 1, 2003. He split his professional rookie season between Anaheim and their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. After spending the 2004–05 NHL lock-out with Cincinnati, he was picked up on waivers by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005–06. Two weeks later, however, he was re-claimed off waivers by the Ducks and went on to play 67 games with them, scoring 19 goals and adding 22 assists for 41 points, surpassing Paul Kariya's club record 39-point rookie season in 1994–95 (Kunitz still qualified as a first-year player because he did not play the minimum required games with Anaheim in 2003–04 to register as his NHL rookie season; the record was broken the following season by Dustin Penner's 45 points).

Kunitz at the lip of Roberto Luongo's crease

In the 2006–07 NHL season, Kunitz improved to 25 goals and 60 points. He went on to help the Ducks advance through the playoffs, past the Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, and Detroit Red Wings, en route to a Finals victory against the Ottawa Senators to capture both his and the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship. Kunitz had been injured during the semi-finals against the Red Wings, but returned late in the Stanley Cup Finals against Ottawa to help clinch the championship in game five.

Kunitz hoisted the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in 2017.

The next season, in 2007–08, Kunitz was named one of the team's alternate captains, his first time with the Ducks and his professional career. In regards to Kunitz' new position, Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle explained, "Rob Niedermayer was an alternate last year and did a fine job, and we thought it was important to involve our younger players in the leadership role. Chris Kunitz fit that role.”."[2] Kunitz's production dipped to 50 points that season.

Pittsburgh Penguins[edit]

In the midst of another slow season in 2008–09, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with prospect Eric Tangradi for defenceman Ryan Whitney. The move was also precipitated by a need for secondary scoring on the Penguins behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. During the 2009 playoffs, he recorded 1 goal and 13 assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in a rematch of the previous year's Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings, giving Kunitz his second championship in three years.

On November 6, 2010, Kunitz played his 400th career game and recorded a goal in that game against the Phoenix Coyotes. On March 15, 2016, he played his 800th career game and recorded a goal against the New York Islanders.[3] In the 2016 Playoffs, he recorded 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points, as the Penguins went to defeat the San Jose Sharks in six games in 2016. It would be Kunitz's third Stanley Cup of his career, his second with the Pens. Since 2010, he has been a regular member of the Penguins' top lines with Evgeni Malkin and/or Sidney Crosby. On May 26, 2017, Kunitz sent the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals with a double overtime game winner in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus the Ottawa Senators. He became the oldest player to score a game 7 playoff series winning goal at the age 37. The Penguins faced off against the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Finals, defeating them in six games to successfully defend the Stanley Cup, with Kunitz assisting on the series-winning goal. This marked Kunitz's fourth Stanley Cup of his career, and his third as a member of the Penguins. Kunitz is the only active player to have won the Stanley Cup four times.[4]

Tampa Bay Lightning[edit]

On July 1, 2017, Kunitz left the Penguins as a free agent and signed a one-year, $2 million, contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning.[5] The Lightning announced through its social media account that Kunitz would wear the #14.[6] Kunitz had previously worn the number with the Penguins and the Ducks. Kunitz recorded 13 goals and 29 points during the season.

Chicago Blackhawks[edit]

On July 1, 2018, Kunitz signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.[7]

International play[edit]

Medal record
Representing  Canada
Ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Gold medal – first place 2014 Sochi
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 2008 Canada

Kunitz made his international hockey debut for Team Canada at the 2008 World Hockey Championships.[8] He contributed 7 points in 9 games, helping Canada to a silver medal. On January 7, 2014, he was named to the 2014 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team.

Personal life[edit]

Kunitz attended Michael A. Riffel High School in northwest Regina, graduating in 1997. Ten years after his graduation, he brought the Stanley Cup back to Riffel in July 2007 when he had his day with the trophy. He also took the Stanley Cup back to his college town (Big Rapids, Michigan) on the same day.[9] On August 11, 2009, Kunitz brought the trophy back to Regina and had a larger celebration in the city's downtown. Kunitz admitted that during his first visit, he had a low-key celebration at Riffel as a result of teammate Ryan Getzlaf's profile. Kunitz married Chicago-native Maureen Pfeiffer in July 2008. The couple reside with their three children in both Bridgeville, Pittsburgh and Chicago.[10][11][citation needed]

Kunitz earned a degree in marketing and business from Ferris State. While attending the school, he became a fan of Major League Baseball's Detroit Tigers.[citation needed]

Career statistics[edit]

Kunitz with the Penguins on January 8, 2011
Chris Kunitz of the Pittsburgh Penguins crashes the net vs Washington Capitals, January 22, 2012.

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1999–00 Ferris State Bulldogs CCHA 38 20 9 29 70
2000–01 Ferris State Bulldogs CCHA 37 16 13 29 81
2001–02 Ferris State Bulldogs CCHA 35 28 10 38 68
2002–03 Ferris State Bulldogs CCHA 42 35 44 79 56
2003–04 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim NHL 21 0 6 6 12
2003–04 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 59 19 25 44 101 9 3 2 5 24
2004–05 Cincinnati Mighty Ducks AHL 54 22 17 39 71 12 1 7 8 20
2005–06 Atlanta Thrashers NHL 2 0 0 0 2
2005–06 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim NHL 67 19 22 41 69 16 3 5 8 8
2005–06 Portland Pirates AHL 5 0 4 4 12
2006–07 Anaheim Ducks NHL 81 25 35 60 81 13 1 5 6 19
2007–08 Anaheim Ducks NHL 82 21 29 50 80 6 0 2 2 8
2008–09 Anaheim Ducks NHL 62 16 19 35 55
2008–09 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 20 7 11 18 16 24 1 13 14 19
2009–10 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 50 13 19 32 39 13 4 7 11 8
2010–11 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 66 23 25 48 47 6 1 0 1 6
2011–12 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 82 26 35 61 49 6 2 4 6 8
2012–13 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 48 22 30 52 39 15 5 5 10 6
2013–14 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 78 35 33 68 66 13 3 5 8 16
2014–15 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 74 17 23 40 56 5 1 2 3 8
2015–16 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 80 17 23 40 41 24 4 8 12 15
2016–17 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 71 9 20 29 36 20 2 9 11 27
2017–18 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 82 13 16 29 35 17 0 1 1 16
NHL totals 966 263 346 609 623 178 27 66 93 164

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
2008 Canada WC 2nd, silver medalist(s) 9 2 5 7 4
2014 Canada Oly 1st, gold medalist(s) 6 1 0 1 6
Senior totals 15 3 5 8 10

Awards and honours[edit]

Awards Year
College
All-CCHA First Team 2001–02 [12]
All-CCHA First Team 2002–03 [12]
AHCA West First-Team All-American 2002–03
CCHA All-Tournament Team 2003 [13]
NHL
Stanley Cup (Anaheim Ducks) 2007
Stanley Cup (Pittsburgh Penguins) 2009, 2016, 2017 [14][15]
First All-Star Team 2013

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ferris State Press Release". 
  2. ^ "Anaheim Ducks name Chris Pronger Team Captain". Ducks Wire. Retrieved 28 September 2007. 
  3. ^ "Kunitz no Hossa, but still helps the Pens". ESPN. February 26, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009. 
  4. ^ "2017 Stanley Cup Championship Notes". NHL.com. Retrieved 2018-03-24. 
  5. ^ "Kunitz signs with Lightning". National Hockey League. 2017-07-01. Retrieved 2017-07-01. 
  6. ^ @TBLightning (18 July 2017). "Chris Kunitz will wear No. 14 with the #Bolts." (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
  7. ^ "Blackhawks agree to terms with three". Chicago Blackhawks. 2018-07-01. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  8. ^ "Getzlaf, Kunitz Named to Team Canada". Anaheim Ducks. 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  9. ^ "Stanley Cup Journal". Hockey Hall of Fame. August 7, 2007. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Meet the Ducks! (Part 2)". rootzoo.com. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved July 23, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Pittsburgh Penguins 2010 Media Guide" (PDF). Pittsburgh Penguins. October 1, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010. 
  12. ^ a b "All-CCHA Teams". College Hockey Historical Archives. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  13. ^ "2012–13 CCHA Media Guide". ISSUU.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Penguins win Stanley Cup, defeat Sharks in Game 6". National Hockey League. 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 
  15. ^ "Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup champions". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2017-06-11. Retrieved 2017-06-11. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Ryan Miller
CCHA Player of the Year
2002–03
Succeeded by
Derek Edwardson