skip navigation

Henry Boucha

Henry Charles Boucha (Born - June 1, 1951 in Warroad, Minnesota USA) is a retired Native American professional ice hockey centerman who played 6 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Detroit Red WingsMinnesota North Stars, Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies.

Boucha was drafted in the 2nd Round, 16th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft. He played high school hockey for Warroad High School 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 play Minnesota high school hockey. Boucha was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995 and was a member of the 1972 United States Olympic hockey team that received the silver medal. In the days before mandatory helmets Henry wore a red headband which became one of Boucha's trademarks.

Center Henry Boucha was a fine scorer and penalty killer whose career was adversely affected by an eye injury. He was a fine international player for the U.S. before making a smooth transition to the North American pro game. 

Boucha spent the 1969-70 season with the WCJHL's Winnipeg Jets. The next year he committed himself to the U.S. national team which afforded him a chance to play at the 1971 World Championships and 1972 Sapporo Olympics. In the meantime, he was selected 16th overall by the Detroit Red Wings at the 1971 Amateur Draft. Following the Americans' silver medal performance, the young pivot joined the Wings for the last 16 games of the 1971-72 schedule.

Boucha and his trademark headband were popular figures in Detroit over the next two seasons. He formed a solid line with Red Berenson and Bill Collins and sometimes worked well with speedy Pierre Jarry. During a game at Montreal in 1973, Boucha tied the NHL mark for the second fastest goal from the start of a game by scoring at the six second mark of the first period. In August 1974, Detroit sent the versatile forward to the Minnesota North Stars for sharp-shooter Danny Grant. Boucha was enjoying a solid year when he was involved in an ugly stick-swinging incident with Boston's Dave Forbes which left him with a cracked bone around his eye and blurred vision. He was never the same after the trauma of the injury and the subsequent court case when the State of Minnesota attempted to charge the Boston player with assault. 

The clever centre sought a change of scenery with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA in 1975-76. He joined the NHL's Kansas City Scouts for the last part of the season and remained with the franchise when it relocated to Colorado in 1976-77. Boucha retired nine games into that season as his effectiveness had diminished. His contribution as an American player was acknowledged with his election to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. 

Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1965-68 Warroad Warriors High-MN
1968-69 Warroad Warriors High-MN 25 60 35 95
1969-70 Winnipeg Jets WCJHL 51 27 26 53 37
1969-70 United States Nat-Tm 6 0 2 2 4 14 6 3 9 37
1969-70 United States WEC-B 7 4 1 5 4
1970-71 United States Nat-Tm
1970-71 United States WEC-A 10 7 1 8 2
1971-72 United States Nat-Tm
1971-72 United States Olympics 6 2 4 6 6
1971-72 Detroit Red Wings NHL 16 1 0 1 2 -3
1972-73 Detroit Red Wings NHL 73 14 14 28 82 -2
1972-73 Virginia Wings AHL 7 3 2 5 9
1973-74 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 19 12 31 32 -22
1974-75 Minnesota North Stars NHL 51 15 14 29 23 -12
1975-76 Minnesota Fighting Saints WHA 36 15 20 35 47
1975-76 Kansas City Scouts NHL 28 4 7 11 14 -13
1976-77 Colorado Rockies NHL 9 0 2 2 4 0
WHA Totals 36 15 20 35 47
NHL Totals 247 53 49 102 157
  • Boucha Tabbed Best in State
  • Warroad's "Gold Machine"
  • Skates with the silvery stride of an antelope
  • "He can make it [the puck] talk." Herb Brooks 
  • "I have never seen a high school player to compare with Henry." Coach Dick Roberts
  • The most electrifying player in Minnesota hockey history  

"The Man Who Ignites the Warriors"
Minneapolis Tribune,  Feb 19, 1969

On the ice, the lean, powerful defenseman [Boucha] is like a fourth forward to all three lines.  He skates with great speed, cuts at incredibly sharp angles, sets up his forwards, carries the puck perfectly, and has a rifle shot either with a flick of his wrists or a slap. 

"Warroad Ace Boucha Tabbed Best in State"
St. Paul Pioneer Press,  Feb 20, 1969 by Patrick Reusse

Henry Boucha has been playing regularly -- and spectacularly -- for the Warroad hockey team since 1965, when he was an eighth grader. But most of Minnesota high school hockey fans will be getting their first look at the sensational defenseman this afternoon. You will notice that Henry's right eye is heavily bandaged. He has a 12-stitch gash sustained when he was struck by a stick  in the Region 3 championship Saturday night against Eveleth. The injury forced Henry to the sidelines -- for three and one half minutes.  It was the only time the Warroad defenseman left the ice in the double overtime clash. And it was Boucha who finally broke up the marathon. He scored on a 25-foot shot with one second remaining in the second eight-minute session to give the Warriors a 3-2 victory. What does Coach Dick Roberts think about this amazing 17-year-old? "I have never seen a high school player to compare with Henry," said the personable Roberts. Herb Brooks, freshman coach at the University of Minnesota, overheard a TV man ask Roberts, "What can Boucha do with the puck?" Brooks said, "The coach should have said, 'He can make it talk.' " 

"Wren Blair Likes Boucha"
Minneapolis Tribune,  Feb 21, 1969

Wren Blair, coach of the Minnesota North Stars hockey team, ranks Warroad's Henry Boucha with the outstanding young prospects in Canada his age. "I'm sure that the only reason they are playing Boucha at defense is so he doesn't tire easy and so they can have him on the ice more," said Blair. "He is quick, has good reaction and is a strong skater. He's a natural forward. "Boucha is good enough to be playing Junior B now and next season he could play with the good Junior A 
players in Canada. "He has a fine backhand shot, better than anybody on the North Stars. "The boy is very dangerous when he has the puck." 

"Boucha- Talk of the Town"
St. Paul Pioneer Press,  Feb 21, 1969 by Frank Tienan

Henry Boucha and the Warroad Warriors were the talk of many towns 
at dinnertime Thursday night after bouncing Minneapolis Southwest in 
the first round of the state hockey tournament play. The 6-1, 180-pound 
Boucha, who skates with the same silvery stride [as that] of an antelope 
[graceful, smooth, flowing], sparked the thrilling 4-3 first round victory.

Southwest's Dave Peterson conceded, "Warroad is very quick and gave our defense a lot of trouble."   Peterson added, "Boucha is an outstanding player but I think we tended to key on him too much subconsciously. He plays so much it's amazing he can go as he does. If he rested more, he would probably really tear things apart." 

"There's No One Like Henry" 
St. Paul Pioneer Press,  Feb 22, 1969 by Frank Tienan

Warroad's "Gold Machine", Henry Boucha.Carl Marvin, one time U.S. Nationals coach from Warroad, explains, "We call Henry the "gold machine" because he can bring people into a hockey arena who have never thought of crossing the threshold before. We have seen a lot of good ones up there, but none like Henry. After 4 games in 6 days, 1300 miles of winter road travel, and not very much sleep Boucha admitted he was getting a bit weary. "I'm not so tired from playing hockey. It's that traveling." 

"In Bantam Hockey" 
Minneapolis Tribune,  Feb 22, 1969

Several years ago, when Boucha played bantam hockey, Warroad won the state title. The next year, he did not play, and Edina beat Warroad en route to the championship. 

Boucha:  "An Amazing Hockey Player"
Minneapolis Tribune,  Feb 24, 1969 

Murray Williams, who coached the U.S. Olympic team last year [1968], watched Boucha loosen up before the championship game. "I just came back from the East Coast," Williams said, "and I watched Boston College play. Right now, I'd have to say Boucha is better than Tim Sheehy." Sheehy, the former International Falls center now at Boston College, is often called the best Minnesota high school player in recent history. Williams added, "Boucha is an amazing hockey player. I think he could easily play for the National team right now." 

Nicknamed "The Chief." Played senior amateur hockey with Warroad Lakers for part of 1971-72 season before 1972 Olympics. Was first amateur player picked in 1972 WHA Draft. Played on Minnesota Fighting Saints (WHA) team that folded on Feb. 27, 1976. Went into real estate business after retirement, joining Warroad's Pahlen Realty in 1987. Active supporter of Native American causes and charities. Named the 47th most important sports figure in Minnesota history by Minneapolis Star Tribune. Subject of biography called Henry Boucha: Star of the North

Last name pronounced Boo-shay. Full-blooded Ojibwa (Chippewa) Indian. Cousin of former NHL player Gary Sargent and former minor-leaguer Earl Sargent. Father of minor-leaguer Henry Boucha Jr.

Henry Boucha’s promising hockey career was tragically brief, cut short by an eye injury that forced him to hang up his skates at the age of 26. His impact on the game continues to this day, thanks to his work with an NHL/USA Hockey Diversity Task Force Program in his hometown of Warroad, Minn. Like many great hockey players, Boucha was a multi-sport athlete growing up, excelling at hockey, football and basketball. He was versatile even within the sport of hockey, skating as both a defenseman and center for Warroad High School Warriors. Boucha played in what is still remembered as the greatest game in Minnesota high school hockey history, when Warroad took on Edina in the 1969 Minnesota State Championship game. The best player on either team, Boucha was knocked out of the game just four minutes into the second period by an elbow to the head. He never saw his team fall in overtime, 5-4, but it’s still remembered as one of the biggest games he ever played in.

He played for three seasons with the U.S. National Team from 1969-72, netting 73 goals and 86 assists in 115 games. His international playing experience culminated with the 1972 Olympic Games, helping the U.S. Team bring home the silver medal.

The Detroit Red Wings quickly signed him to an NHL contract, and he suited up with the Red Wings in 1971-72, playing parts of three seasons in Hockeytown. He didn’t find the scoring touch of his youth in Detroit, tallying just 43 goals and 26 assists in 159 games. Boucha felt right at home in the 1974-75 season with the Minnesota North Stars, scoring 15 goals and 14 assists in his first 29 games, before his season — and his career — ended with an eye injury he suffered in a game against the Boston Bruins. He would come back to play for the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints in 1976, and with the Kansas City Scouts and Colorado Rockies of the NHL, but couldn’t overcome his limited vision. He then retired from the sport, when was just 26. Boucha would go on to play for his hometown Warroad Lakers, before donating much of his time to various Native American causes. A full-blooded Ojibwe Indian, Boucha founded a program in 1995 to offer economically disadvantaged Ojibwe youth the opportunity to play ice hockey. Though mostly remembered for his on-ice abilities, Boucha’s greatest assists can be found off the ice.