Mike Cullen started playing hockey under the guidance of a triumvirate of St. Louis hockey coaching legends in the likes of Eddie Olson (HOF '08), Bill McKenna (HOF '08) and Jim Whitworth (HOF '10), all esteemed members of this Hall of Fame.
Mike continued playing amateur hockey through his youth, college and eventually faded into the early morning and late night men's leagues. He started coaching through the Creve Coeur program in the early 1990s with his daughter's mini-mite team.
While serving as a councilperson for the City of Chesterfield shortly after the great flood as 1993 he was involved in the planning and approval of the construction of the 500 year levy and subsequent TIFF that allowed the Valley to safely commercially develop. During this time period Mike recognized the need for additional sheets of ice in the St. Louis area due to the ever increasing heavy new influx of youth players into the game that had been triggered through the success of the Blues, and in particular, the popularity of Brett Hull.
Through this process he became involved in the development of the Chesterfield Ice Complex. In late 1993 Mike approached Mark Munie, former president of the Webster Hockey Association and Joe Bosse, former president of Missouri Amateur Hockey Association, about creating a youth hockey association for the growing Chesterfield area. Through these gentleman's guidance and support over the next many months Mike worked on founding the Chesterfield Hockey Association which eventually came into existence in January of 1995. He cobbled together 7 well respected and experienced local hockey people in the likes of Pat Dolan, Howard Chapel, Diana Sheffering, Bill Kirchner, Bernie Federko, and Kendall Dirk to form the founding Board of the Chesterfield Hockey Association.
Given that Chesterfield was blessed with 3 sheets of ice the Board had the luxury of a year to plan the hockey program. They looked at the structure of a number of programs, particularly those in Michigan, Ontario, and Minnesota in order to model Chesterfield's hockey program. Through this process it was decided that Chesterfield's program would increase the number of teams at each level of play, reduce the size of the roster size to only 12 players, and increase the amount of ice time the players received each week. It would turn out that these decisions all proved to be a very successful formula for the Chesterfield Hockey Association.
Even though Chesterfield had not one player signed, the founding Board put up the money to buy over 1,000 team sweaters, and guaranteed hundreds of hours of ice time. When the rinks opened in 1996 they were successful in having over 500 kids sign up to play. Within 2 years the CHA had grown to over 720 players and was the second largest hockey association in the United States, which included the largest house hockey program in the nation fully sustaining 4 teams at every level.
In an effort to further expand its program beyond the boundaries of St. Louis area, Mike along with then Board member Basil McRae, traveled to Chicago and met with Central States Hockey Association's president, Norm Spiegel. This meeting resulted in Chesterfield securing the first chartered team for that Central States league in the St. Louis area.
Chesterfield Hockey under the tutelage of many great coaches, including a significant contribution in coaching from a number of Blues alumni, has gone onto win national championships and has had number of players from its program go onto to play in the NHL.
Mike feels it is a great honor to be the first person from the Chesterfield Hockey Association to be elected into the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame. However, he believes this honor must truly be shared with the original founding Board, parents, players, many Blues alumni and volunteers who all rolled up their sleeves to make the dream a reality.