Big Rapids, Mich. - Former Ferris State University men's ice hockey standout Chris Kunitz, who's the only active player in the National Hockey League (NHL) to win four Stanley Cup Championships, will join his fourth professional franchise as the veteran forward inked a one-year, $1 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks this weekend.
A 15-year NHL veteran, Kunitz spent this past season in 2017-18 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, helping the franchise to the Eastern Conference finals in his only season there. He played in all 82 regular-season games and tallied 13 goals and 16 assists this past year.
The previous year, in 2016-17, Kunitz cemented his place in history as he became a FOUR-TIME Stanley Cup Champion following the Pittsburgh Penguins' 2-0 game six victory over the Nashville Predators in the final round.
Kunitz, who lifted the Penguins to the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals by virtue of his double-overtime game-winning goal against the Ottawa Senators, won his third Stanley Cup with the Penguins to go with a first one claimed as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. He had an assist on the Penguins' game-winning goal in last year's final game victory, which capped off a back-to-back title run for Pittsburgh.
The former Bulldog standout's four Stanley Cups are the most of any active player in the National Hockey League (NHL). A total of only two NCAA alums, Ken Dryden and Glenn Anderson, have won more Stanley Cups among former all-time college players than Kunitz.
A year ago, Kunitz became the oldest player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in a game seven, giving the Penguins a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in a thrilling contest in the Eastern Conference finals to advance to the championship round. The former Bulldog standout tallied two goals and an assist in a memorable night, cementing his place in franchise history.
Along with it being the second-straight trip to the finals for the then back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, it also represented Kunitz' fourth appearance in pro hockey's title round.
The former FSU standout has appeared in 966 regular-season games along with 178 playoff contests during his memorable 15-year professional hockey career.
Overall, Kunitz has tallied 609 career points in regular-season action with 263 goals and 346 assists. He's added 93 more points with 27 goals and 66 assists in playoff action at the NHL level with the Anaheim Ducks, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the past 50 NHL seasons, Kunitz is the only professional player to win two or more Stanley Cup Championships, claim an Olympic Gold Medal, become an NHL All-Star and finish as a plus on-ice player every year of his career.
Two years ago, Kunitz helped the Penguins to a 3-1 series victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Stanley Cup Championship added to Kunitz' legacy in his stellar professional career, which also includes an Olympic Gold Medal.
Kunitz claimed NHL First-Team All-Star recognition for the first time in his professional career at the end of the 2012-13 campaign. Although he didn't establish any career highs due to the abbreviated season, Kunitz enjoyed perhaps his best season in '12-13, leading the team in goals (22) and power-play goals (t-9), while placing second in points (52), rating (plus-30) and game-winning goals (t-5). He became the first player not named Crosby or Malkin to lead the team in goal scoring since Ryan Malone in 2003-04.
Kunitz became Ferris State Hockey's first-ever Olympic Gold Medal Champion when he helped Canada to a victory in the gold medal game in 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
The 6-foot, 195-pound Kunitz also became the first Penguins player since 2000 to score four goals in a single game when he accomplished the feat at Washington in 2012-13.
A key member of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup championship squad, Kunitz was acquired by the Penguins from the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 26, 2009. He went on to register 14 points (1G-13A) in 24 playoff contests that year, helping the Penguins defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the Cup Final.
Prior to joining the Penguins Kunitz played four-plus seasons with Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers between 2003-09. He was instrumental in helping the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007, scoring six points (1G-5A) in 13 playoff games. He was originally signed by Anaheim as an undrafted free agent on April 1, 2003.
As a collegian at Ferris State, Kunitz excelled during his 2002-03 senior season by garnering American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America First-Team honors and was among the final three 2003 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player. A two-time (2001-02 and 2002-03) CCHA First-Team pick, Kunitz became the first Bulldog skater to earn Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Player of the Year honors after leading the league in points, goals, assists, and plus/minus for the 2002-03 campaign.
Kunitz concluded his stellar career ranking tied for sixth in career points (175), second in goals (99) and 18th in assists (76) in 152 contests. He played an integral role in leading the 2002-03 Bulldogs to a school-best 31-10-1 overall record, the school's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title and the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Championship Tournament appearance. Kunitz was also recognized as the male student-athlete recipient of the 2002-03 Bulldog of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding Ferris State student-athlete.
Kunitz was also chosen to the CCHA's All-Decade Team for his work as a collegian at Ferris State. Previously, he a member of Canada's squad that won a silver medal at the 2008 World Championships before winning Olympic Gold.