Chris Kunitz is hanging up his playing skates, but he's not going anywhere.
Tuesday, Kunitz and the Blackhawks announced that the 39-year-old is retiring from the NHL following a 15-season career. However, he will remain with the Blackhawks, joining the hockey operations department as a player development adviser. In his new role, Kunitz will assist both the Blackhawks coaching staff and that of the Rockford Icehogs, the team's AHL affiliate.
Forward Chris Kunitz announced his retirement following 15 seasons in the @NHL. Congrats on an incredible playing career Kuni!— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 30, 2019
Kunitz now joins the Blackhawks hockey ops department as Player Development Adviser, assisting Chicago's coaching staff as well as the @goicehogs staff! pic.twitter.com/PyypVzb469
Kunitz joined the Blackhawks for the 2018-19 season, tallying 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 56 games. He spent the bulk of his career with the Penguins (2008-17), though, tallying 388 points (169 goals, 219 assists) in 569 games. He won three Stanley Cups (2009, 2016, 2017) with Pittsburgh.
Before joining the Penguins, Kunitz also played with the Anaheim Ducks (2003-05, 2005-09), winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.
"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.”
“Chris had an outstanding professional career. His four Stanley Cups and Olympic gold medal speak for themselves," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a press release. "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, whose wife is from the Chicagoland area, will continue to reside in Chicago's western suburbs with his family.