Kunitz trades free agency for security
Chris Kunitz believes he just agreed to his last NHL contract — a three-year deal that will keep him with the Penguins through the 2016-17 season.
Negotiations began late last week before Kunitz and his family left for their offseason home in Chicago and ended Thursday with the deal that will provide a slight raise to $3.85 million annually. His conversation with the Tribune-Review:
On forsaking free agency next summer:
I did it backwards. The only time was coming out of college. The appeal is having long term on your contract. I would assume it's my last contract. There's not too many long-term deals out there for guys my age now, about to turn 34. That's what you have to look at, make sure it benefits your family every single way.
On being the chosen winger for captain Sidney Crosby:
It's an honor to have guys talk about you like that. (Crosby and center Evgeni Malkin) expect certain things to be done on the ice. With me, it just fits easy with them.
On Crosby's reaction:
He said ‘congrats.' He wondered if we'd be moving into his neighborhood (Sewickley).
On his favorite part about Pittsburgh:
“The people. You can't go wrong with our fans. They're courteous and polite, respectful of you and your family. People are critical at times, but they enjoy the game and treat us like we're something special. I realize we're just athletes, that it's entertainment. But it's nice to be in the grocery store and have people come up and say, ‘Have a great game.' ”
On long-term personal goals:
“There's always the longevity stuff. To get that 1,000-game mark — for me, coming out of college late, is something that might be a real stretch still, but it would be really nice to have. To set career records every year would be fun, too.”