John Cullen retires

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John Cullen's courageous comeback is over. The Tampa Bay Lightning center, who missed all of last season while battling cancer, announced his retirement on Friday. He will remail with the Lightning as an assistant coach.

"My goal was to come back and play, to make it back after a bone marrow transplant and all the radiation I had, and I did it," said Cullen. "The greatest thing was just to get back, but the greatest thing of all is being healthy."

Cullen returned after sitting out the entire 1997-98 season battling a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was scoreless in four games before being given a choice between coaching position and a demotion to the IHL.

Cullen chose IHL and was sent to down to Cleveland. He played six games in the minors before deciding to retire and accept a coaching position with the Lightning.

"I've got to admit I'm pretty nervous," Cullen said. "It's all such new territory for me. Since 1983, hockey has been my life. But today I walked in a different set of doors. I've got to see what this coaching thing is all about."

In 621 NHL games over parts of 10 seasons for Pittsburgh, Hartford, Toronto and Tampa Bay, Cullen had 187 goals and 363 assists.

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