May 28, 2015

Les Cunningham

Les Cunningham played 60 games with the New York Americans and the Chicago Black Hawks in the National Hockey League around the beginning for World War II. He will be better remembered with the Cleveland Barons where he is an American Hockey League Hall of Famer.

Les Cunningham's hockey career really began when he was 15 when left his Calgary home to join the Regina Pats.  According to Brian Brennan's Calgary Herald eulogy of Cunningham, "to make ends meet he delivered telegrams for the CPR and hustled pool." He would help the Pats compete for the Memorial Cup.

Cunningham turn pro in 1934 with the Buffalo Bisons. It was two years later that "blonde bomber" moved to Cleveland and became a hockey hero. In his 10 seasons in the AHL he would score 233 goals and 346 assists for 579 points in 519 games. The five time all star would lead Cleveland to three Calder Cup championships. He retired as the AHL's all time leading scorer and had the league's Most Valuable Player award named after him.

Despite all that success in the minor leagues, Cunningham did not find such success in the National Hockey League. Except for on one night.

The New York Americans of the NHL noticed and gave him hist first good look at the NHL. In 23 games Cunningham scored just one goal and eight assists.

Cunningham played the 1939-40 season with the Chicago Black Hawks, scoring six goals and seventeen points.  His best night clearly came on Jan. 28, 1940, when he scored two goals and three assists all in the third period against Montreal. The five points stood as a single period record for the next 38 years until Brian Trottier of the New York Islanders tallied six points in one period versus the New York Rangers.

Les went on to coach San Francisco Shamrocks (PCHL) and junior hockey's Brandon Wheat Kings before becoming a long time NHL scout. He was often seen at Calgary Flames games and Calgary gof courses.

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