May 05, 2015

Tom Coulter

Many former NHLers end their hockey careers overseas. Not many have ended it in Australia.

But that is the case for Tom Coulter, who played two games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1933-34 season.

You may recognize Tom's brother's name. Art Coulter was a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman with Chicago and the New York Rangers. In the picture to the left, Art is on the left and Tom on the right. 

Tom was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on April 21st, 1911. He was the youngest of the three Coulter children. David, the oldest was quite the boxer and wrestler. He won the silver medal in heavy weight boxing in the 1928 Olympics

 Like all the kids in the neighborhood Tom grew up playing hockey in high school and after class on the many frozen sloughs and ponds. But he would finish his high schooling in Pittsburgh after his father moved to Pennsylvania to pursue automotive and hardware businesses.

Out of the shadows of brothers David and Art, Tom enrolled at Carnegie Tech , starring in football and especially track. He set several records and he, too, qualified for the Olympics. He did so by winning the 440 meter hurdles at the Canadian championships, which earned him a spot on the 1932 Canadian Olympic team. Unfortunately during his Olympic race he knocked down four hurdles, an automatic disqualification.

For all his athletic endeavors, education was always Tom's main focus. He completed his engineering degree and enrolled at the University of Chicago to pursue a masters degree in economics.

Tom faced one big problem that many students face, especially back in the grips of the Great Depression - how to pay his tuition. Brother Art, who was in his third season with the Black Hawks, suggested Tom play hockey to pay the bills. After all, fellow Hawk Don McFadyen was doing just that. 

Tom had not played any serious hockey since leaving Winnipeg nearly a decade prior. Undaunted, Tom turned a try-out into a $2500 contract in just two weeks. But the Hawks decided Art needed to polish his skills with a season with their farm team in Oklahoma City. He did get a chance to play two NHL games.

Tom played well enough in Oklahoma City, then took spring and summer classes at the University of Chicago. He returned to the Black Hawks training camp in the fall, making good impressions on a defense pairing with his brother Art.

Tom's hockey career came to a sudden during one scrimmage. The Coulter brothers both attempted to hit teammate Howie Morenz, but the hockey great eluded both as they crashed into each other. Art got up, but Tom did not. He had fractured his fibula.

Tom attempted a come back in the minor leagues, but after 6 games he decided to hang up his blades and focus on schooling. Not only did he complete his masters in economics, but he added a masters in business administration as well.

Tom eventually started working with an American company called Armco. He would travel the world overseeing the construction of manufacturing plants in Burma, India and Australia. In Australia Tom decided to return to the ice, playing in the New South Wales Ice Hockey Association .

World War II made such worldly adventures somewhat dangerous. Coulter and his wife Mary settled in Chicago where they raised four children. He worked for the Chicago Chamber of Commerce for nearly three decades. He would travel around the world once again, promoting the city of Chicago.

Tom Coulter passed away on December 17th, 2003. He was 92 years old.

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