Olympian and Warroad High School hockey star Henry Boucha has died at the age of 72.

Boucha led Warroad to the championship game in the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament in 1969 and was named the 75th anniversary all-tournament team in 2019.

Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1971, he played four four different NHL teams. While playing for the North Stars in 1975, Boston’s Dave Forbes hit Boucha with the butt end of his stick leaving Boucha legally blind in his right eye. Boucha never reached the level he was at on the ice after the incident.

Boucha won a silver medal with the 1972 USA Olympic team before beginning his professional career.

In 1995, he became the first Native American to be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. article source www.kstp.com

Henry Boucha

Henry Boucha
Born June 1, 1951
Warroad, Minnesota, U.S.
Died September 18, 2023 (aged 72)
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Position Center
Shot Right
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Minnesota North Stars
Minnesota Fighting Saints
Kansas City Scouts
Colorado Rockies
National team  United States
NHL Draft 16th overall, 1971
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1971–1977
Website henryboucha.com

Henry Charles Boucha (/ˈbʃ/ BOO-shay;[1] June 1, 1951 – September 18, 2023) was a Native American professional ice hockey center. Boucha played in both the National Hockey League (NHL) and World Hockey Association (WHA) between 1971 and 1977. In the NHL he played for the Detroit Red WingsMinnesota North StarsKansas City Scouts, and Colorado Rockies, while he played for the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA. His career was cut short by an eye injury by Dave Forbes. Internationally Boucha played for the American national team at two World Championships and at the 1972 Winter Olympics, where he won a silver medal.

A full-blooded Chippewa Ojibwa, Boucha’s distant cousin Gary Sargent and his second cousin T. J. Oshie have also played in the NHL.

Amateur career

Boucha played high school hockey for Warroad High School in Warroad, Minnesota leading his team to the 1969 state tournament where he was injured during a 5–4 overtime loss to Edina. He is considered to be one of the best players to ever played Minnesota high school hockey.[2]

While serving in the U.S. Army, Boucha joined the United States national ice hockey team on a full-time basis in 1970 as the U.S. won the “Pool B” qualification tournament. He participated in the 1971 Ice Hockey World Championships in BernSwitzerland where he scored seven goals in ten games for Team USA. Boucha was also one of the biggest stars of the 1972 United States Olympic hockey team which received the silver medal.

Professional career

Boucha was drafted in the second round, 16th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft (he was also drafted first overall by the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the rival WHA but chose not to defect to the WHA). Boucha scored a goal in his first NHL game after the Olympics and was voted Detroit rookie of the year in his first full NHL season. The Red Wings sent him to the Minnesota North Stars in exchange for Danny Grant in 1974. Boucha was enjoying a solid year in his home state; on January 4, 1975, he was assaulted in a highly publicized stick incident by Dave Forbes of the Boston Bruins. The attack left Boucha with a cracked bone around his eye and blurred vision. Forbes was prosecuted for aggravated assault. His trial resulted in a hung jury.[3]

Boucha never really recovered from the injury. He attempted a comeback with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA in 1975–76 and then returned to the NHL as a free agent with the Kansas City Scouts in later 1975-76. In 1976 the franchise moved to Denver, Colorado and became the Colorado Rockies, from whom he retired from professional hockey after only nine games.

Before the NHL required players to wear a helmet, Boucha wore a headband.[4] His nickname was “the Chief”.[5]

Post career

Boucha fell on hard times due to his unexpectedly early retirement from hockey (his agent was negotiating a four-year contract with the North Stars but the talks were never completed due to the injury). He went through a period of divorce and drug and alcohol abuse [6] before straightening out his life in the 1980s. He re-established himself in his native community and became active in various Native American causes.

Boucha died on September 18, 2023, at the age of 72.[7]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1965–66 Warroad High School HS-MN
1966–67 Warroad High School HS-MN
1967–68 Warroad High School HS-MN
1968–69 Warroad High School HS-MN 25 60 35 95
1969–70 Winnipeg Jets WCHL 51 27 26 53 37 14 6 3 9 37
1971–72 Detroit Red Wings NHL 16 1 0 1 2
1972–73 Detroit Red Wings NHL 73 14 14 28 82
1972–73 Virginia Wings AHL 7 3 2 5 9
1973–74 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 19 12 31 32
1974–75 Minnesota North Stars NHL 51 15 14 29 23
1975–76 Minnesota Fighting Saints WHA 36 15 20 35 47
1975–76 Kansas City Scouts NHL 28 4 7 11 14
1976–77 Colorado Rockies NHL 9 0 2 2 4
WHA totals 36 15 20 35 47
NHL totals 247 53 49 102 157