Matt Cullen is 41 years old and will turn 42 on Nov. 2. He’s currently the NHL’s oldest player, although he doesn’t really plan on holding that title for long.
“I’m definitely going into [the 2018-19 season] thinking that this is probably it,” Cullen told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette inside his rural Minnesota home on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m not going to formally announce anything before the season starts, but I think this probably is it.”
The Penguins signed Cullen, who helped them win a pair of Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, to a one-year deal on July 1 that will pay him $650,000.
A veteran of 1,445 NHL games with eight different franchises, Cullen has rarely thought about more than the year immediately in front of him.
However, with three young, hockey-playing boys at home, he’s begun thinking more about life after professional hockey.
“I’ll probably stay involved with the game in some capacity,” Cullen said. “I’m a little late to be starting something entirely new. I left college a couple years early. I’m probably not qualified for much else, but I love being around the game. I love working with young kids.
“I can see myself being involved with the game, but if not, I’ll be super happy to be home and work with [Brooks, Wyatt and Joey] and coach their teams. I like that. We do a lot of different stuff in the summer. I’ll probably do a lot of that and see what I end up doing in the game.”
Of course, whenever Cullen does talk about retirement — and doesn’t immediately dismiss it — he winds up offering a few qualifiers.
Such as things can always change, and he never knows what the future holds. It’s also not incredibly new for him to focus solely on one season.