The Name's Cullen - Matt Cullen by @Medina_MarieC - PensInitiative | Pittsburgh Penguins Blog | Rumors | News

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Name's Cullen - Matt Cullen by @Medina_MarieC

Today's dinner special: Roasted Crow on a bed of mashed ego's with root vegetables. Dessert is Humble Pie.

Matt Cullen came into training camp as a free agent. A proclaimed "journeyman", he had (till then) played for seven other NHL teams in seventeen seasons (the Ducks, Panthers, Hurricanes twice, who he also had a Cup win with, Rangers, Senators, Wild, and Predators). At thirty-eight, while most players are thinking of hanging up the skates, Cullen thought he may have at least one more year left in the tank.

He was right.

Cullen was signed to a 1-year contract worth $800,000. Nothing spectacular but his age and questionable ability stemming from it had to be taken into consideration by management. The media went bonkers and many a sports writer and fan chalked the signing up as being one of the biggest mistakes in the Jim Rutherford era. Wasted money on a has-been.

ORDER...UP! And I hope you brought some hot sauce.

Since Mike Johnson got the hold heave-ho, Matt Cullen has been nothing short of the biggest surprise in recent Penguins history. He is, by all accounts, the new Billy Guerin. Lovable, hard working, and a positive re-enforcement when the times get tough and a bit chippy.

Not only is the veteran a leader in the locker room and on the bench (always willing to take one of the youngsters aside and give them some advice), he is playing more like a twenty-nine year old instead of a (now) thirty-nine year old would. That could be coming from the fact that he normally centers a line with two players who are nearly half his age (Tom Kuhnhackl and Bryan Rust). Keeping up with those young guns would make a normal seasoned player tired just thinking about it. But, Matt Cullen isn't normal. He has tapped into the fountain of youth and I fully expect Capt. Jack Sparrow to show up any day now....or maybe Dan Boyle from the Rangers.

When called upon to take over as the second-line center, it is easy to understand why there was apprehension. It turned out to be one of the best things to happen to the Penguins this season. He aided in keeping the team afloat when, one after another, players went down to  injury. Cully became the Penguins 5th highest scoring forward during the second half of the season tallying 12 goals (4 of those goals being game winners, 3 being short handed) and 8 assists.

Add to his credit that he hasn't missed a game all season (I know at least 6 other players who can't say the same unfortunately) and reached a milestone in his career when he earned his 650th career point March 20th against the Washington Capitals.

"Cullen has been such an invaluable part of this team. Not only with his play, but just his presence in the locker room, on the bench,” Sullivan said. “He’s been through a lot of hockey in this league. He’s won a Stanley Cup. He knows what it takes. He has great perspective … and he’s done it since I’ve been here" - Head Coach Mike Sullivan (when interviewed after Game 3)

If this is to be Daddy C's last year in the NHL we should all feel honoured and privileged to be witnessing it here in Pittsburgh. And for those of you who still doubt that Cully can still cut it, check out the following clips as proof that he can still hang with the best of them. He really is living up to the nickname of the "ageless wonder".

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