Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cullen's Family-First Call OK with Sullivan Moving Guentzel Not Top Option as Bottom-Six Center

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cullen's Family-First Call OK with Sullivan Moving Guentzel Not Top Option as Bottom-Six Center

Article excerpt

KINGSTON, Mass. - Penguins coach Mike Sullivan would love to play Matt Cullen 12-14 minutes a night on the fourth line, use him to kill penalties and enjoy every ounce of leadership that Cullen exudes.

That's not going to happen, of course, as Cullen signed a one-year, incentive-laden deal with his hometown Minnesota Wild Wednesday.

A former player himself, Sullivan knows the Penguins might miss Cullen, but - speaking at The Bog Ice Arena for his day with the Stanley Cup - Sullivan said he absolutely understands the reasoning behind Cullen's decision.

Basically, putting his family first.

"Matt's not only a great player, but he's a great leader," Sullivan said. "He's a good person. He's the type of player that I think personifies the character that we look for in our players.

"We're going to miss him in a lot of ways. Not only on the ice with his hockey ability, but we're going to miss his leadership and what he brings to our dressing room.

"Having said that, I understand. I think we all understand. As much as we're disappointed that he's not going to play for Pittsburgh next year, we wish him well."

Sullivan and Cullen spoke Wednesday, shortly before news of Cullen's return became public. Cullen called Sidney Crosby, Sullivan and Jim Rutherford. None of the calls were easy, but they all understood.

Cullen, 40, is from Minnesota and wants to get his kids established in those schools, finally achieving some semblance of normalcy.

Brooks, Wyatt and Joey Cullen were fixtures around the Penguins dressing room after games and practices. It would not be uncommon to see them joking around with Sullivan or other players or simply sitting with their dad.

That's another aspect of Cullen that Sullivan said he would miss.

"Matt's a family man," Sullivan said. "He's got a terrific family. …

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