Matt Cullen formally announced his retirement from professional hockey on Wednesday after 21 years in the NHL.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 10, 2019
Cullen announced his decision through an emotional video titled "My Story" and a seven-part story on the Penguins' website.
Part 6 is about his time in Pittsburgh:
"The phone didn't ring on July 1, 2015, the annual start to NHL free agency. I had just finished two great years in Nashville, but my future was still unclear. I still wanted to play, even at 38 years old, but I was pretty sure that it was the end.
That day came and went without a call. Then the next day came and went. Then the next week. Then the next month. Even so, I continued to train and keep myself ready just in case an opportunity came up. At least I would be in shape and could make a decision for myself. I didn't want it made for me because I was out of shape.
One day in early August, the phone rang. It was Jim Rutherford.
Bridget was out for a run. When she got back, I said, 'You'll never guess who just called.' And she goes, 'Was it Jim?' It was crazy. She just knew.
As usual with these decisions we talked for a while and prayed on it. But we felt like we kept getting these opportunities, and it would be crazy not to jump on it and give it a try. We took that leap and went to Pittsburgh.
The rest speaks for itself. We won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships the next two years, the first team to do so in two decades. It was a historical run.
I just pinch myself and think about how close it was to not happening. Those were probably the best years of my whole career, and life, with the Penguins. Going through all that with the boys and Bridget and that group of players, the whole organization, everything was perfect. It was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
I certainly couldn't have imagined it the way we started that first season, though. We had such a terrible start that nobody had any expectations. I remember my son Wyatt coming to me at Christmas and crying because we had dropped out of the playoff picture.
Then Mike Sullivan came and we made a bunch of changes. Things started rolling from there. It was a unique group. It was a special group. That first year everything came together, and we were having so much fun. We were like a machine, all the way to the Cup.
The second year it was the same group, but it was a totally different year. We had to really lean on each other the most that year. The expectations were high going in and it brought our group closer together. It was rewarding because we stuck together through so many ups and downs.
I'll always have the Cups and those memories. But when I think back on those times, what really stands out is watching my boys with those guys. A lot of the guys would come over to my house, Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino, Sidney Crosby, Ian Cole, Marc-Andre Fleury, Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin. We'd all have a couple glasses of wine and the guys would play mini sticks with the boys (the most intense games were between the boys and Patric Hornqvist; I know you're shocked).
That, for me, was the coolest thing ever to watch. It was like the boys were part of the family. They'd come in the locker room after practice, trying to avoid doing homework. They'd steal gum. One time, Joey hid in Ian Cole's change stall. He jumped out and scared the crap out of him.
Those are the memories I'll treasure, probably more than anything. Just seeing them around the room every day. I know the boys will remember it forever."
Cullen said that he's "been in a constant state of almost-retirement for the last few years. But coming into this last season, I knew that no matter what it would be the end."
"I felt like it was only right to retire in Pittsburgh with everything that the organization had given me and done for me," he said. "I'm so happy I came back and finished my last year in Pittsburgh. I wouldn't trade that last year for anything."
Our Dave Molinari spoke one-on-one with Cullen about his decision and his future plans. You can find that story here.
Cullen's wife, Bridget, shared this message:
Thanks for taking me along for the ride.... 🙏🏻 love you and can’t put into words how proud I am of you❤️❤️❤️ https://t.co/tiUeN1xkD4
— Bridget Cullen (@brcullen) July 10, 2019
Former teammates congratulated Cullen on his retirement:
Congrats on your retirement Cully! What an honor it was #7 pic.twitter.com/OjYGVnu4zP
— Jake Guentzel (@jakenbake20) July 10, 2019
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by M M (@matt30murray) on
Couldn’t have asked for a better teammate, person, and friend to share some unbelievable memories with! https://t.co/5dqTT2kNhy
— Bryan Rust (@rustyyy_92) July 10, 2019
It was an honour to play with you Cully. Have fun in retirement!! pic.twitter.com/QWs2t8aCuI
— Kristopher Letang (@Letang_58) July 10, 2019
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Phil Kessel (@phil_kessel_81_) on
The AHL shared this interesting stat:
— AHL Communications (@AHLPR) July 10, 2019
To continue reading, log into your account: