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US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1980

Walter L. Bush, Jr.
Frank "Nick" Kahler

1980 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Known widely as the primary founder of the Minnesota North Stars, Walter Bush has pursued hockey as a prep school player, college and amateur player, amateur coach and Olympic manager, before getting into the executive side of the professional aspect of the sport.

The Minneapolis native began his hockey career at Breck School and continued at Dartmouth.  While working on his law degree at the University of Minnesota, he kept his skates in practice playing senior hockey and helping to organize the U.S. Central League.

He then became active on the international scene, managing the 1959 U.S. National Team and the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team, serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1963, and later a four year term on the USOC’s Hockey Section.  He has also participated as president and vice president of the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association and as a director of the Amateur Hockey Association of the United States.

Instrumental in bringing professional hockey to Minnesota in the form of the Minneapolis Bruins, Bush later put all his credentials to work in securing an NHL franchise for Minnesota.  That effort was a major step in the road to October 21, 1967, when the Minnesota North Stars played their first game against California at the Metropolitan Sports Center.   Bush was the first “grass roots American” to win the Lester Patrick Trophy, which he received in 1973, as well as being named NHL Executive of the Year in 1972 by the Hockey News.

Hockey has been a major force in the life of Walter Bush during most of his years on this earth. That means that Bush is delighted to spend every minute of each day dealing with the sport he loves best.  When control of the North Stars passed to George and Gordon Gund, the new owners chose Bush as vice president.  They recognized his devotion to hockey, his wide range of knowledge of the sport and its people, and his experience as club founder and chief executive officer.  He has served as governor or alternate governor of the team in every year of its existence.

1980 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Nick Kahler was described as being a feisty, little hockey player from Michigan’s Copper Country, possessing great ability and the incredible knack for being in the right place at the right time.  He was a high scoring center for every team he played on, achieved “star” status at a very early age, was very popular with both press and fans, and invariably was elected captain by his teammates.  He was small, fast, high scoring, always on top of the puck, typically the game breaker.

Kahler was a promoter, often recruiting to build a team and fan attention. While he played with greats like United States Hockey Hall of Fame (USHHF) enshrinees Joe Linder, “Moose” Goheen, Tony Conroy, and Vic Des Jardens, he encouraged, coached, and managed such greats as “Ching” Johnson, Lyle Wright, “Taffy” Abel, Virgil Johnson, Phil Perkins, and Andy Mulligan: Wright, Abel, and Johnson are members of the USHHF.

Kahler’s earliest years were spent playing amateur hockey in the Copper Country and Canada before joining the Duluth Curling Club Team for the 1913-14 season.  From there it was on to St. Paul and action with the Athletic Club as manager, coach, and player.  In 1916, the Athletic Club with Moose Goheen, Tony Conroy, Eddie Fitzgerald, and Kahler won the coveted McNaughton Cup against Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and then went on to defeat Lachine, Quebec, for the Art Ross Trophy.  He continued with the Athletic Club until 1920 and was selected for the 1920 Olympic Team, but financial obligations precluded his participation.

In 1920, Kahler launched the Minneapolis Millers in the United States Amateur Hockey Association.  His 1924-25 team won the league title, but the start of professional hockey in the United States brought a quick end to the Millers by the end of the 1926-27 season.  Kahler was selected to coach the Augsburg College Team to represent the United States in the 1928 Olympics, but the decision was ultimately made to send no team.  Kahler returned to hockey for one year in the late 1930s as owner of the then professional Millers and saw his team capture the American Hockey Association title.

In addition to his hockey interests, Kahler founded Golden Gloves boxing in Minnesota as well as the Northwest Sports Show in Minneapolis.  He was inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame in 1962 and awarded the Governor’s Public Service Citation and Heritage Award in 1967.