September 26, 1979 |
Regina, SK, CAN
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)|
Christopher Kunitz (born September 26, 1979) is a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger and alternate captain for the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has previously played for the Atlanta Thrashers and Anaheim Ducks, the latter with whom he won a Stanley Cup in 2007. He won his second and third Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and 2016. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
College and junior
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).
Kunitz was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks 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).
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.
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." However, Kunitz's production dipped to 50 points that season and 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 against the Detroit Red Wings. 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. Since 2010, he has been a regular member of the Penguin's top lines with Evgeni Malkin and/or Sidney Crosby.
Kunitz made his international hockey debut for Team Canada at the 2008 World Hockey Championships. 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.
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 (Ferris State University, Big Rapids Michigan) on the same day. 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 in both Pittsburgh and Chicago.
On April 15, 2009, Chris and his wife Maureen welcomed their first child, Zachary James. and on April 5, 2011, the couple welcomed their second child, Payton Marie. They welcomed a third child, Aubrey Ann, on January 26, 2014. 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.
Regular season and playoffs
|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||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||NHL||67||19||22||41||69||16||3||5||8||8|
Awards and honours
|All-CCHA First Team||2001–02|||
|All-CCHA First Team||2002–03|||
|AHCA West First-Team All-American||2002–03|
|CCHA All-Tournament Team||2003|||
|Stanley Cup (Anaheim Ducks)||2007|
|Stanley Cup (Pittsburgh Penguins)||2009, 2016|||
|First All-Star Team||2013|
- "Ferris State Press Release".
- "Kunitz no Hossa, but still helps the Pens". ESPN. February 26, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
- "Getzlaf, Kunitz Named to Team Canada".
- "Stanley Cup Journal".
- "Meet the Ducks! (Part 2)".
- "Pittsburgh Penguins 2010 Media Guide" (PDF). Pittsburgh Penguins. October 1, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2010.
- "All-CCHA Teams". College Hockey Historical Archives. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
- "2012–13 CCHA Media Guide". ISSUU.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- "Penguins win Stanley Cup, defeat Sharks in Game 6". National Hockey League. 2016-06-12. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
- Career statistics and player information from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or The Internet Hockey Database
|Awards and achievements|
|CCHA Player of the Year