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Tom Coulter (right) with brother Art during a NHL Black Hawks training session.


April 21st, 1911
Winnipeg MB Canada

December 17, 2003
Skokie IL USA

NHL Chicago Black Hawks, AHA Oklahoma City Warriors, IHL Cleveland Falcons, NSWIHA St George

Goodall Cups

Won the 440m hurdle event in the Canadian Championships and a spot on the 1932 Canadian Olympic Team that competed in Los Angeles. He was automatically disqualified after he knocked down four hurdles.

BORN APRIL 21ST, 1911 at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Tom Coulter was youngest of three boys. Victorian-born Tommy Dunderdale and his family lived in Winnipeg during most of Coulter's sporting career, a star player with Charles Uksila in Portland Rosebuds, the forerunner of the NHL Blackhawks in which the Coulter brothers later played. Although a "one-gamer", Coulter was the first NHL player (1933–38) to play in Australia and an accredited referee. Brother of Arthur Edmond "Art" Coulter (1909–2002), NHL defenseman, 1925–43, who played minor hockey in Winnipeg with the senior Pilgrim club, in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, and left the city in 1927 after one season as a junior. As a boy, Tom skated on any frozen surface he could find in Winnipeg, and first played organized hockey in high school, winning the Senior School Series Hockey Championship with St Johns College in 1927.

His oldest brother, David, won titles in amateur boxing and wrestling and was runner-up in the 1928 Olympic heavyweight boxing. David moved to Pittsburgh and soon convinced his father to move the family automotive and hardware business there. Art turned pro in 1929, gaining two and a half years experience with Philadelphia Arrows in the Can-Am League, then entered the NHL with Chicago Black Hawks in 1931–32. Tom completed high-school at Pittsburgh and then attended Carnegie Tech. He played halfback for the football team and was captain of the track and field team. He set several records and had the 29th best time in the world in 1931. He returned to Manitoba in 1932 to compete in the Canadian Championships, where he won the 440m hurdle event, and a spot on the 1932 Canadian Olympic Team that competed in Los Angeles. He was automatically disqualified after he knocked down four hurdles.

Coulter completed a degree in engineering graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1933. A mentor suggested the University of Chicago's business program. But he was faced with the problem of paying for his tuition during the Great Depression, with little prospect of finding a job that would both pay well and permit time for studies. His brother Art was about to begin his third season (1933–4) with the Black Hawks, and he suggested Tom pay his way by also playing for them. He had not played organized hockey since Winnipeg almost ten years earlier, apart from some pickup hockey at Carnegie Tech. A tryout was arranged and he was offered and signed a $2,500 contract. He played two games with the Black Hawks in the 1933-4 season before the coach decided a year in the minors would fine-tune his abilities, making him a shoe-in the following season.

He played the rest of the 1933–4 season with the AHA Oklahoma City Warriors, appearing in 47 games and managing two goals, one assist and thirty penalty minutes. He returned to the Black Hawks at a training camp, where he played along side his brother in defense. He had been injured and sidelined for at least six weeks when the Hawks traded him to the IHL Cleveland Falcons. He decided to hang up his skates after a lackluster six games dealing with a leg that just wasn't what it used to be, but he had also met Mary Alice on campus. She became his wife in 1937 and lifelong partner. He completed his Master’s Degree in Economics in 1935 then accepted a job with a large US company named Armco, developing and manufacturing Zonolite insulation.

Coulter lived overseas for several years overseeing construction of manufacturing plants in Australia, Burma (now Myanmar) and India. While in Australia, he decided to strap on the blades once again for NSW St George IHC. However, it is unlikely Coulter's appearance in Australian amateur hockey was incidental. He was probably connected through Tommy Dunderdale to Jimmy Bendrodt in Sydney, preceded by earlier arrangements in which Bendrodt was involved, such as the Uksilas season in Melbourne in 1923 with Robert Jackson (also see Tommy Dunderdale). It was apparently common in those days for Canadians living abroad who played organized hockey to skate circles around the locals and intimidate opponents with physical play, and Coulter didn't disappoint. He was 6 foot 2 inches tall (188 cm) weighing 210 pounds (95.3 kg) and his rough play caused a fuss between opposing teams. The much awaited clash between the Bears and St George was held on September 14th, 1938. The Sun newspaper said the following day:

"For 40 minutes last nights hockey giants flashed and skidded in the fastest and most thrilling game for years. Play was rough but never out of control of referee Norm Turner whose quick decisions and refusal to tolerate infringements kept the players in check. Tom Coulter was penalized five times. 'Spike' Robinson (note 1) was knocked out three times but recovered to score the winning goal. The aftermath of this game and subsequent press coverage led to a break-away group being formed by the Ice Palais management posing the first threat to Australian controlling bodies. Perhaps the whole episode would have petered out but for a letter sent sent by the Ice Palais management to the captain of St George, Jim Brown. It inferred that Tom Coulter of St George was a 'dirty' player. Tom Coulter was on a business trip to Australia. His brother Art Coulter played for the Chicago Black Hawks and was considered one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Tom Coulter had also played with the Black Hawks and was also an accredited referee. Today, he would still be considered the best hockey player in Australia." [The Sun, Sydney, 15 Sep 1938]

The referee, Norm Turner, was N L Turner who had represented New South Wales in the Goodall Cup during the Kendall-Reid-Pike era and later. Dunbar Poole was manager of the Ice Palais when this match took place (note 2 below). Coulter played for other teams while in Australia, before finishing his work there and moving to Rangoon, Burma, to oversee another construction in 1939. He later settled in Chicago where he and Mary raised their four children. He was CEO of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce for more than twenty-five years, 1954 to 1981, once again traveling locally and abroad to promote Chicago. He organized six major international trade fairs in the city during the 1950s and 1960s that he promoted around the world. Coulter’s vision for Chicago as a worldwide center for trade earned him decorations from the Governments of Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Japan. [1, 43] He was Director of the Chicago Tokyo bank for many years; and president of both the Executives Club of Chicago (1948-53) and the Sales and Marketing Executives Club of Chicago (1948-56).

01. Historical Notes

[1] Spike Robinson was Don "Spike" Robertson who played for the Kenora Thistles from 1935 (also see notes for Russell Carson entry).

[2] Sometime after 2002, a copy of the Sun newspaper report of the Bears vs St George clash (above) was published at, a not-for-profit research project. It was probably the source for part of the Society for International Research (SIHR) entry on Australian hockey. The SIHR paraphrased half the original newspaper article, but in a reversal of fact: "The captain of St George Club, Jim Brown (Ex-Grosvenor House Canadians) sent a letter in the name of the Ice Palais management and inferred that player Tom Coulter of St. George was a 'dirty' player." The original clearly states the Ice Palais management wrote to Brown, captain of St George, "inferring" his player Coulter was "dirty". This served to escalate this 1938 contoversy and its subsequent press coverage. Jimmy Bendrodt, owner of the Ice Palais, had brought the Bears pro team from Canada for the express purpose of promoting the sport and his newly opened rink. He also brought Dunbar Poole back from retirement to manage the rink when he was in his sixties. Within months, both were central to events which led to the first direct confrontation with the Australian controlling authorities, and the formation of a break-away group. The dispute stemmed from the controlling authority's decision to prohibit the Canadian Bears team from competing in the amateur Australian leagues (see Russ Carson). It found new impetus when St George played a former NHL player in this off-season match.

02. Citation Details

Ross Carpenter, 'Coulter, Thomas Henry (1911 - 2003)', Legends of Australian Ice, Melbourne, Australia,, accessed online 11 November 2015.

03. Select Bibliography
Player profile at
Player profile at

04. Citations
Citations | 1 - 280 | 281-on |