Stanley Cup Winner Matt Cullen: My Faith Is What Comforts Me

Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) is defended by Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76) during the first period in game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena.
Pittsburgh Penguins center Matt Cullen (7) is defended by Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban (76) during the first period in game three of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at Bridgestone Arena. (Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

The Pittsburgh Penguins last night secured back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships, taking the Nashville Predators in six games.

Today, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) is congratulating the Penguins, and specifically, Pittsburgh center Matt Cullen, who recently shared his faith story in FCA Magazine.

Cullen, the son of a high school hockey coach, first picked up a hockey stick at the age of 2 and was drafted 35th overall by the Anaheim Ducks. At first, the young player remained focused on the things that mattered. But during his first few years in the pros, Cullen's faith took a backseat. Since then, however, he told FCA that his faith journey has been a continual growing process, especially as he's played with eight different organizations over two decades.

"With each stop along the way," he said, "(my wife, Bridget, and I have) grown deeper in God's Word and truth, reincorporating it into our lives and relationships and being encouraged through the churches we've attended. I'm proud of the fact that people know I am a Christ-follower playing in the NHL. Hockey is such an up-and-down sport. One day you're on top of the world, and the next, you're down in the dumps. My faith helps put things in the right frame of mind where I keep my eye on what's truly important: playing my hardest and putting everything I have into the game. I was given a gift, and it's my responsibility to make the most of it for God's glory. Having that perspective has really helped me handle the ups and downs that each season can bring.

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"My faith is what comforts me when I think of my hockey career coming to a close," 40-year-old Cullen says of his impending retirement. "I hope I've made a positive impact on the people I've come in touch with and made a difference in their lives. And I hope people appreciate and respect what I've done in the game, the kind of person and man I am and the legacy of faith in Christ I'll leave behind."

The captain of the Penguins' Stanley Cup opponent, Predators' center Mike Fisher, has also contributed the FCA devotional, "Heart of a Competitor Playbook," where he shared Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

"Sometimes you can hope that everything is going to be perfect, but God doesn't promise that life will be free of troubles," Fisher wrote for the devotional. "We won't always understand why we're struggling or why things aren't going our way. But He does promise that if we put our trust completely in Him, He will take care of our needs and give us the strength to make it through the trials of life.

Both Fisher and Cullen also contributed to the first FCA Hockey New Testament Bible, which features inspiring words from hockey players at various levels.

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