Matt Cullen, who was the first participant in the NHL last season, retired Wednesday at age 42.
The forward played 21 seasons in the NHL, including last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, when he had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 71 regular-season games.
“It was an emotional time, but that I knew it was coming,” Cullen informed NHL.com. “It just felt right, and that I was actually at peace with everything as it was over.
“I felt like it was just right to retire in Pittsburgh with all that the organization had given me done for me personally. I’m so happy I came back and completed at Pittsburgh. I wouldn’t trade that last year for anything.”
Cullen’s first stint with the Penguins was from 2015 to 2017, when he helped Pittsburgh. Cullen also hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, when he scored a career-high 25 targets.
He ranks 19th in NHL history — and secondly one of U.S.-born gamers — in games played (1,516). The Minnesota native played for eight groups, accumulating 731 points (266 targets, 465 assists). Cullen was a second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in the 1996 draft, making his NHL debut.
“I am thankful for every single game, every moment, everything this game has given me. … It is difficult to believe that this is the ending, but I am,” Cullen said.
“I might have skated my last shift, but I’m not hanging up my skates just yet. For me to have the ability to shoot (my sons) to the rink and play with them on the ice, as a dad, that is as good as it gets.”
–Field Level Media