Matt Cullen, who was the oldest player in the NHL last season, retired on Wednesday at the age of 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 I knew it was coming,” Cullen told NHL.com. “It just felt right, and I was really at peace with everything when it was over.
“I felt like it was only right to retire in Pittsburgh with everything that the organization had given me and done for me. I’m so happy I came back and finished my last year in 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 to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. Cullen also hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, when he scored a career-high 25 goals.
He ranks 19th in NHL history – and second among U.S.-born players – in games played (1,516). The Minnesota native played for eight teams, accumulating 731 points (266 goals, 465 assists). Cullen was a second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in the 1996 draft, making his NHL debut during the 1997-98 season.
“I’m grateful for every game, every moment, everything this game has given me. … It’s hard to believe that this is the end, but here I am,” Cullen said.
“I may have skated my last shift, but I’m not hanging up my skates just yet. For me to be able to take [my sons] to the rink and play with them on the ice, as a dad, that’s as good as it gets.”