Quite a career: Blackhawks honor Chris Kunitz before 1,000th game
When Chris Kunitz looks back upon his long, illustrious career, he likely won't focus much on this season with the Blackhawks.
After all, not many players with Kunitz's résumé -- which includes 264 goals, 349 assists and four Stanley Cup championships -- sit out 19 of 23 games as a healthy scratch.
Still, Chicago is where Kunitz can say he played in his 1,000th NHL game, a feat accomplished by only 31 other undrafted players.
"I didn't actually think I'd have a career until you start playing in it, and once you're in it you just try and hang on as long as you can," said Kunitz, who hit the milestone during the Hawks' game against New Jersey at the United Center on Thursday. "I've been very fortunate (with) the opportunities that I've had and teammates and people I've come across in my career."
Kunitz was joined on the ice by his wife and three children during a seven-minute pregame ceremony emceed by Troy Murray.
Nick Bonino, Marc-Andre Fleury, Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews offered their congratulations in a highlight video chronicling Kunitz's career. Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith then unveiled a commemorative print honoring Kunitz's achievement.
"Pretty happy for him," said coach Jeremy Colliton, who started Kunitz alongside Patrick Kane, Toews, Keith and Seabrook. "He's had a great career. His accomplishments speak for themselves."
Kunitz won his Cups with the Ducks in 2007 and the Penguins in 2009, '16 and '17. He posted career highs in goals (35) and points (68) with the Penguins in 2013-14.
"He's just a great person and a great guy to be around," Toews said. "You look at what he's meant to the championship teams he's been on in his career, you kind of realize what he brings to the table and what he means to a team in the locker room."
The Hawks signed Kunitz, who scored 13 goals for Tampa Bay last season, to a one-year, $1 million deal in the off-season. He played in 19 of the first 20 games, but then was in street clothes for the better part of seven weeks.
Kunitz, who plans on settling in Chicago with his family after he retires, has 1 goal and 3 assists and is averaging 9.5 minutes of ice time in 34 games.
"Even though it hasn't been the easiest transition, (you want to do) whatever you can to help your team win," Kunitz said. "I want to do that if that's three minutes or if it's seven minutes, or if they need a shift on the power play like I got earlier in the year.
"It's something where you just go out and try to get better, (whether) that's in practice and showing somebody to do something different, or something you've experienced along the way."
Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 16 games when he scored at 18:17 of the first period against New Jersey at the United Center on Thursday. He also recorded an assist for the 15th straight game, breaking Stan Mikita's team record set in 1967. Kane is only the ninth player in NHL history to record an assist streak of at least 15 games.
"It's special," Kane said. "I've had some great teammates over the years and as far as the record goes tonight, a lot of guys burying pucks when I'm passing to them. Pretty cool feeling."
Cam Ward (12-8-4) made 41 saves and ran his winning streak to five in the Blackhawks' 5-2 victory over New Jersey at the United Center on Thursday. ... The Hawks placed David Kampf (foot) on injured reserve Wednesday. He is expected to be out until late February or early March.