April 16, 2016

Brian Cullen

The Cullen family were known for two things - hockey and automobiles.

Brian was the oldest of three brothers all to make it to the National Hockey League. Raised in Ottawa, Brian went on to record breaking offensive numbers while leading the OHA's St. Catherine's Teepees to the 1954 Memorial Cup.

Cullen was a true offensive dynamo, but in the NHL he found himself playing with the tight defensive Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1950s. Those Leafs teams played a physical, grinding game and focused on defense more than offense. Despite a 20 goal season in 1957-58, Cullen never fit in with the Leafs.

The New York Rangers claimed Cullen in an intraleague draft in 1959, but torn knee ligaments and a broken hand really hampered his two seasons in Manhattan.

By 1963 Cullen left the ice for good as he had another career calling him. And it all started with a chance meeting by Brian Cullen that he called "the luckiest break" in his six year NHL career.

Cullen was attending a father-son banquet in Richmond Hill, Ontario when he met a man who convinced Cullen and teammate Bob Pulford to come to his house because his young son could not attend due to a broken leg. They dropped by, signed the kid's cast, and began a friendship with Herb Kearney - a notable Toronto car dealer.

When Cullen retired from pro hockey in 1961 Kearney took him under his wing and gave him a job as a leasing manager. Learning the entire business from the bottom up, Cullen eventually secured his own General Motors car dealerships.

Brothers Barry and Ray, along with Barry's son John, all played in the NHL and all got into the car sales business, too.

Brian also found success raising thoroughbred racing horses.

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