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Chris Kunitz deserved this. 

In 15 NHL seasons, he leads all active players with four Stanley Cups, hit the 1,000-game mark this season despite beginning his career as an undrafted free agent and once scored a memorable double-overtime goal in Game 7 to send the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final, which they eventually won for the second straight year. He's seemingly done it all in the pros.

So at 39 years of age and his hockey career likely coming to an end, it was fitting that he found the back of the net to potentially cap things off in his final game and, to him, scoring the way he did — with the puck barely crossing the goal line and the review finally going his way.

"I was thinking that they took a lot away from me throughout my career, would've been nice to get one more," Kunitz joked on what was going through his mind while waiting for the official call. "Kicked a lot in or had a lot called back. But it was obviously a special night to get one."

It was special because Kunitz signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks last summer in part because his wife and her family is from Chicago. It gave him the opportunity to extend his playing career while staying close to those that mattered most.

He's reached the point in his life where consulting with them is a priority as far as his future goes.

 

"I'm trying not to, honestly," Kunitz said, shortly after his smiling son joined in on the postgame press conference. "I don't want to make a rash decision. I've talked to a lot of guys that have maybe said that they should just wait it out or wait till you know for sure, and having the season come to an end early and not be in the playoffs, I want to sit back and reflect with my family and talk about where we're going to be. It's not all about myself anymore. Three kids who are getting up there in age that expect a lot from me to be around and sometimes it gets long for my wife being there by herself, so just trying not to be selfish about it. I've been fortunate enough to be in this league for a long time. We'll sit back and see where we are."

The thought of retirement after the season started to creep into Kunitz's mind after he was a healthy scratch for 14 of 17 games in December through early January. He was a pro about the way he handled it, but it left a sour taste in his mouth because he didn't want himself to remember his career that way.

While it's unclear what he'll decide to do this summer, the Blackhawks respectively gave Kunitz a courtesy start alongside Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the final game at the United Center this season. And if it was Kunitz's last one too, going out as the No. 2 star of the game in front of his family was a perfect way to do it.

"You know what, for the second half of the year I tried to think that this may be the last one," Kunitz acknowledged. "You never know. Being healthy scratched and having that part of your career and not knowing if you can go back in there or where the season was turning. Fortunate enough to get back in there and have some competitive games and play a little more like myself and remember myself as playing, so I try to leave it all out there.

"And hopefully if today was the last one, I left it all out there."

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