BIRTHPLACE: Aurora, Minn.
BORN: December 12, 1911
DIED: May 2, 1992
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Chicago Blackhawks, Montreal Canadians
Mike Karakas was the first of a number of players coached by enshrinee Cliff Thompson to go on to stardom in the National Hockey league. Karakas had his first hockey training on the ice in a lot near the Spruce Mine of Eveleth, where he and other sons of Oliver Iron Mining Company (now United States Steel, donators of the site of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame) fought out their hockey battles. He played hockey on the Eveleth High School team for three years, and later, while attending Eveleth Junior College, he joined the Rangers, an amateur club which won the state championship in 1931.
Karakas soon attracted the attention of a scout for the AHA's Chicago Shamrocks, where he was used as a backup goalie that year and as a regular the next. He was named as the AHA's most valuable goalie. After trying out with the Detroit Red Wings, he was sent to St. Louis, playing there and at Tulsa for the next two years. Both St. Louis and Tulsa were members of the AHA, then hockey's top minor league.
Karakas joined the Chicago Blackhawks at the start of the 1935 season and proceeded to dazzle the opposition by posting a 1.92 goals against average and 9 shutouts over the 48-game season. This was more than sufficient to gain him the forerunner to the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. In 1938 Karakas backstopped the Hawks to a Stanley Cup victory despite an injury during the final series. He recorded two shutouts during the eight playoff games. He played with the Blackhawks into the 1940 season and ended that year with the Montreal Canadiens.
Playing the next three seasons in the American Hockey League with Providence, Karakas returned to the Hawks in 1944 and took them all the way to the Stanley Cup finals against the Montreal Canadiens. Though the Blackhawks went out in four straight games, all but the first was close and Karakas performed brilliantly.
The following season he shared the league leadership in shutouts with four, and was also named second team All-Star. After the 1946 season Karakas returned to the Providence Reds of the American League where he finished his professional career. He is a true Eveleth hockey legend.