Cully Dahlstrom

When Cully Dahlstrom made his NHL debut for Chicago Blackhawks in 1937-38 he was one of very few American born players in the league. Chicago's owner was Major Fred McLaughlin. One of his dreams was to put together an all-American Stanley Cup winning team. This of course never happened but he had several Americans on the Chicago team that won the Stanley Cup in 1938.

One of them was 24 year old Carl "Cully" Dahlstrom. Cully recalled McLauglin's dream of having an all-American team.

"I think that since his team was in an American city he wanted American born players playing there, But he soon found out that there weren't enough Americans to go around to build one team with. I don't think it took him very long to discover that.", Cully said.

Cully was born and grew up in Minneapolis where he played high school hockey. He played for the Minneapolis Millers from 1932 through 1934, and then went on to play professional hockey for the St.Paul Saints of the strong AHA league where he was a First team All-Star in 1936.

A couple of years before his NHL debut he was invited to the Boston Bruins training camp. Cully soon discovered that he wasn't ready for the big league.

" After the first couple of days I realized that I wasn't ready to jump to the NHL yet," he recalled. " Those guys just skated circles around me. It was as though I was going in slow motion the way those players played. That's why it really didn't bother me when I went back to the minors."

It was a wise choice by Cully because he took the experience back with him and knew how to make himself a better player. When he returned to the NHL with Chicago, he would win the Calder Trophy as the "rookie of the year" in 1937-38.

That first year was Cully's high point of his playing career. Not only did he win the Calder but he also won the Stanley Cup.

" We had quite a team that first season," Cully recalled. "We really didn't do that well during the regular season (winning just 14 games and finishing 30 points behind the divisional leader Boston). But when we got to the Stanley Cup playoffs that year everything seemed to fall into place for us. We had some real good players like Paul Thompson and Mike Karakas, who really carried the team. We just took the playoffs one game at a time. I guess as a team we surprised quite a few people that year. But we just refused to give in that year," Cully said.

Cully himself played a vital role in the playoffs as he scored some key goals. In game two of the semi-final against NY Americans Cully scored the only goal of the game, an overtime goal after 33:01 of OT to tie the series which saved Chicago from elimination. He also scored the first goal against Toronto in the 4-1 win that brought the Stanley Cup to Chicago.

Cully recalled an oddity about the Stanley Cup win.

" The funny thing about winning the Cup that year is the fact that we never got to drink champagne out of it the night we won the championship. It seems as though certain people were so sure that the Cup wasn't going to come to Chicago, that it was never brought down from Toronto."

Cully's best season point wise in the NHL came in 1943-44 when he scored 42 points, including 20 goals, in 50 games. He played one more season before retiring from hockey. He was best known as a two-way center and a regular penalty killer. He was one of USA's pioneers in the NHL and was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973.

After his hockey career Cully went on to work as a real estate appraiser. In later years he lived in Escondido, California


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