Christopher Kunitz (born September 26, 1979) is a Canadian professional ice hockey left winger who is currently an unrestricted free agent. He most recently played for the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Kunitz with the Lightning in 2018
September 26, 1979|
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)|
Tampa Bay Lightning
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.
Internationally, he won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
College and juniorEdit
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 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).
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."." Kunitz's production dipped to 50 points that season.
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. 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.
Tampa Bay LightningEdit
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. The Lightning announced through its social media account that Kunitz would wear the #14. Kunitz had previously worn the number with the Penguins and the Ducks. Kunitz recorded 13 goals and 29 points during the season.
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 (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 with their three children in Chicago. Kunitz and his family lived in the Bridgeville area of Pittsburgh during his tenure with the Penguins.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|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|
|2017–18||Tampa Bay Lightning||NHL||82||13||16||29||35||17||0||1||1||16|
Awards and honoursEdit
|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, 2017|||
|First All-Star Team||2013|
- "Ferris State Press Release".
- "Anaheim Ducks name Chris Pronger Team Captain". Ducks Wire. Retrieved September 28, 2007.
- "Kunitz no Hossa, but still helps the Pens". ESPN. February 26, 2009. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
- "2017 Stanley Cup Championship Notes". NHL.com. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
- "Kunitz signs with Lightning". National Hockey League. July 1, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- @TBLightning (July 18, 2017). "Chris Kunitz will wear No. 14 with the #Bolts." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- "Blackhawks agree to terms with three". Chicago Blackhawks. July 1, 2018. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
- "Getzlaf, Kunitz Named to Team Canada". Anaheim Ducks. May 2, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
- "Stanley Cup Journal". Hockey Hall of Fame. August 7, 2007. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2007.
- "Meet the Ducks! (Part 2)". rootzoo.com. July 23, 2008. Archived from the original on November 30, 2010. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
- "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. June 12, 2016. Retrieved June 12, 2016.
- "Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup champions". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. June 11, 2017. Retrieved June 11, 2017.