Canadiens great 'Butch' Bouchard dies at 92
|Emile "Butch" Bouchard. (QMI AGENCY files)
Legendary Canadiens defenceman Emile “Butch” Bouchard, who won four Stanley Cups with the team, died Saturday morning just south of Montreal. Bouchard, who was surrounded by family, was 92.
Bouchard was considered to be the team’s best defenceman during its first 50 years as a hockey organization. He played his entire 15-year career with the Canadiens, from 1941 to 1956, and captained the team for eight years from 1948 until his retirement.
Known for his strength on the ice, Bouchard was called the Louis Cyr on skates, in reference to a Quebec man who was considered the strongest in the world in the 19th century.
Gordie Howe called Bouchard the “the cornerstone of the Canadiens.”
Bouchard played alongside Maurice “Rocket” Richard for 15 seasons.
“I played 325 games with Butch and he was the only player who would defend me,” the Rocket said in 1985.
Bouchard was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Canadiens retired his number 3 during the team’s 100th year, in 2009.
Bouchard was born on Sept. 4, 1919. His father was a carpenter and painter. Bouchard grew up so poor that when he was invited to the Canadiens’ 1941 training camp in a town 50 km north of Montreal, he made the trip by bicycle.
Butch never won the James Norris Memorial Trophy, given to the league’s best defenceman but that was only because the honour was created in 1956, two years before he retired. However, the trophy for the best defenceman for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league is named after him.
Bouchard played 785 regular season games, and had 49 goals and 144 assists. He had 11 goals and 21 assists in 113 playoff appearances.
He spent his last years in an elderly care facility in Brossard, Que., just south of Montreal. He is survived by his wife, Marie-Claire, his five children and seven grandchildren.