After 21 seasons in the NHL, 42-year-old Matt Cullen is calling it quits. The three-time Stanley Cup champion (2x Pittsburgh, 1 Carolina) announced his retirement through the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
“I’ve 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,” Cullen wrote on the Penguins website in a Players’ Tribune-esque goodbye post. “It was an emotional time, but I knew it was coming. 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 received many salutes on social media from his past teammates including current Capital Carl Hagelin.
The Capitals’ third-line winger posted a blurry shirtless photo of the two players in a pool. Both are holding bottles of champagne, presumably to celebrate a Stanley Cup, while Hagelin has a cigar in his mouth.
“1500+ games ✅ 3 Cups ✅ Great player ✅ Great friend ✅ Congrats on a great career Cully!!” wrote Hagelin.
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1500+ games ✅ 3 Cups ✅ Great player ✅ Great friend ✅ Congrats on a great career Cully!!
A post shared by Carl Hagelin (@62hagsofficial) on
Hagelin and Cullen played together on the Penguins’ teams that won back-to-back Stanley Cups.
Penguins star Jake Guentzel commented on Hagelin’s photo calling it “legendary.”
He added on Twitter that it was an “honor” to play with the veteran of 1,516 NHL games.
Congrats on your retirement Cully! What an honor it was #7 pic.twitter.com/OjYGVnu4zP
— Jake Guentzel (@jakenbake20) July 10, 2019
Other players to salute Cullen included Matt Murray, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, and Bryan Rust.
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It was an honour to play with you Cully. Have fun in retirement!!
A post shared by Kris Letang (@kletang_58) 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
Several of Cullen’s former NHL teams tweeted goodbye.
Congratulations to Matt Cullen on an incredible career!
Best of luck in retirement, Matt. pic.twitter.com/hQTDO4M1Aa
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) July 10, 2019
👍Thanks for the memories Dad!
Congratulations to Matt Cullen an outstanding career. @mnwildscribe reflects on the Minnesotan's career → https://t.co/ICJ2H1s8Mq #mnwild pic.twitter.com/7wVg1zkjS4
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) July 10, 2019
Congrats to former #Preds forward Matt Cullen on a great 21-season career.
(2017 season not included, of course 🙄)
Enjoy retirement! pic.twitter.com/PPzfb789lz
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) July 10, 2019
Cullen’s wife also included an emotional tribute on Twitter.
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
From one Caps fan to a hated Penguin, congratulations on a great career, Cully. Have a wonderful retirement.
Headline photo: @62hagsofficial
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