Chris Dahlquist, Penguins Defenseman, 1985-1988, 1989-1991

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Chris Dahlquist:

First, can you let readers know about your post-NHL career – how you got started in the financial business and what you enjoy most about it?

My first taste of the financial service industry came in the fall of 1994 while playing for Ottawa Senators. As an NHLPA Player representative during the 94′ Owner Lockout, the deadlocked negotiations with the owners sure seemed like the season might get lost. With that in mind I joined a small investment firm in Minneapolis and got my first taste of the financial service industry.  I continued to spent a portion of my office season gaining additional experience until retirement.

Since Retiring in 1998 I have grown a Financial Service business with Prudential Financial, focusing on Individual Asset management and helping small businesses with their benefits coordination. I really enjoy the diversity of my practice. Whether it is helping individuals work through the challenges they face in growing their assets or working with business owners to help them build sustainable benefit packages in these uncertain times gives me a different challenge daily.

From a family standpoint, I’m very fortunate to have my own business and the flexibility of schedule to help coach both my son Chad and daughter Charly during their youth hockey years.

What lessons from your playing career and coaches have helped you most to prepare for this line of work, and how so?

As a professional athlete, you have pressure to perform on a daily basis. There is an instant response to good or bad performance. As a player, you need the ability to rebound from a bad shift and not get too excited after a good one. Consistency and persistency is an invaluable trait when dealing with the volatility of the financial markets and the growing of a business.

And obviously it never hurts clients relationships in Minnesota if you can give a good hockey story or two about Badger Bob Johnson or Mario Lemieux.

How difficult has it for you to transition from the NHL to a second career – and how were you able to do so?

The transition to a more rigid work schedule was not as big a hurdle as I thought it would be. Pro athletes reach that level through sacrifice and regimented work. The greatest challenge when transitioning out of the game for me was the drop in income. A major decision I made when playing was to defer some of my earnings till after retirement. This allowed my family to maintain our current lifestyle (with a few downward adjustments) while I grew my practice to a level we needed. There have been and continue to be hurdles with the balancing of life but last year I reach a milestone. After thirteen years as a financial advisor, this is now my longest career.

You read today about the struggles many NFL players face in transitioning from football to a post-sports career. How does the NHL help players do so – if at all, and is the issue as big with former NHL players as it is with NFL ones?

The NHL didn’t offer much support when leaving the league. In their defense, I don’t think it is owner’s responsibility to prepare or protect their players when its time to leave their employment. The responsibility lies with the players and the NHLPA. The PA is better equipt to oversee this and have done a better job of late. They sponsor “After Hockey”

You first made it to the NHL in ’85 with the Penguins. Who helped you adjust to the NHL – both on and off the ice -and how did they do so? Any examples?

Tough guy Steve Martinson of the Flyers organization gave me fighting lesson the summer before my 1st year. I figured since he set the AHL penalty minute record that he had some experience. He obviously wasn’t that impressed with me since he was my opponent in my first fight as a pro. In an exhibition game he came out and lined-up across from me at the face-off and said, “Coach told me to “Go-you” since you’re running around”. I was taught right then that there are no friends when you have a job to do and never let up on anyone…friend or foe.

You were known to be a tough defenseman not afraid to fight. But were there aspects of your game you felt were under-rated because of your “tough-guy” role?

That reputation of me being a tough-guy fighter is probably a little over-rated. Out of necessity I was a big body checker and that just resulted in some scuffles.

Who were some of the toughest players you went up against during your NHL career, and what made them so?

Cam Neely, Gary Roberts, Keith Tkachuk…stats say it all  50 goals- 200 PIMS

After over five years in the Pittsburgh organization, you found yourself in Minnesota. What prompted the move and how difficult was that transition for you?

I was actually only in Pittsburgh for five years before the trade to Minnesota. The first move is always the hardest for an athlete but I think Bob Johnson said it best when he called the house to tell me about the trade. Badger said, “I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news is we traded you today…but the good news is you’re going home.” Going back to Minnesota made that first trade transition a lot easier for us.

How has the game changed, from your perspective, since you played, especially as it relates to the role of the enforcer/tough guy?

The game has gotten much more defensive than the 90’s. There were typically five to six defensive specialist on each team. I can’t think of more than a dozen players in the league that would block shots. It is expected today that your 50 goal scorer dives in front of shots. Paul Cofee would always say after blocking a shot that he just lifted the wrong leg.

What are your favorite memories of your time in Pittsburgh?

Day one of my first training camp when I was training on the bike next to Giles Meloche (39 yrs old) and I told him that my squirt team used to hand out Oakland Golden Seals Stickers back when he was playing for them.

Getting engaged to my wife of 25 years Jeanie while going down the Mt Washington Incline on Christmas Eve 1986.

Sweeping NYR in 1988-89 playoffs and the fans throwing bottles at our bus as we drove out from under Madison Square Gardens.

The Penguin Christmas Dinner at the Igloo with my wife at a table with 19-year-old Rob Brown and his 16-year-old date…Alyssa Milano and her nanny.

Watching Zarley Zalapski’s dad save EJ Johnson with the Hiemlich maneuver when he was choking on a piece of steak.

Assisting on Mario Lemieux’s 4th goal of the night during my first NHL Game in St. Louis. Little did I know his seven-point night would be more points than I would get in my next three years.

Scoring a goal in my third NHL game and then going 70 games before my next.

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