MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens announced today that Émile “Butch” Bouchard passed away early Saturday morning in Longueuil. The former Canadiens captain was 92.
The Montreal Canadiens relied heavily on defenseman Butch Bouchard for 15 seasons. His robust play contributed to the Habs’ defense while his alert passing was an integral component of the team’s exemplary transitional game. Bouchard was a tall and strong competitor who used his physical attributes to advantage although he was never known as a bully by his peers. After playing with the Verdun Maple Leafs and the Montreal Junior Canadiens, he honed his skills with the Providence Reds in 1940-41, but his tremendous poise impressed coaches and the following fall he earned a spot on the Canadiens defense. His youthful passion helped ignite the team again.
Bouchard developed into a tough stay-at-home defenseman whose physical game was a superb complement to defense partner Doug Harvey, one of the game’s all-time great rushing blueliners. Physically, Bouchard was remarkably strong but he never abused his powerful attributes and most opponents wisely avoided provoking him. Over his 15-year career, all in a Canadiens uniform, Bouchard played 785 regular season games recording 193 points, including 49 goals, and served 863 penalty minutes. The sturdy defenseman also added 32 more points playing in 113 playoff games, leading the Canadiens to four Stanley Cups, including two as team captain. Bouchard played in six NHL All-Star games. He was also voted to the first NHL All-Star Team on three occasions and earned a selection on the Second All-Star squad.
“Émile Bouchard was undeniably one of the best defensemen in Canadiens history and a tremendous captain. Throughout his career, he was praised for his character and leadership, leading his team to four Stanley Cup championships. His jersey, retired on December 4, 2009, is a tribute to the impact he had not only on his teammates but on an entire generation of Canadiens fans. He will be missed, but never will he be forgotten. On behalf of all members of our organization, I would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Bouchard family,” said Geoff Molson, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens.
Upon retiring, Bouchard turned his interests to amateur hockey in the Montreal area and also served as a tutor to younger defensemen. Prior to the 1968-69 season, he was named president of the Metropolitan Junior A Hockey League. His contribution to the game of hockey as an NHL player and minor hockey administrator was recognized in 1966 when Butch Bouchard took his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Forty-two years later, he was honoured with the National Order of Quebec. The order presented by the Premier of Quebec is conferred upon men and women, who are either residents of Quebec or were born there, "for outstanding achievements in most fields." Bouchard would also be enshrined in the Canadian as well as the Quebec Sports Hall of Fame. On the Canadiens Centennial Night, on December 4, 2009, Émile Bouchard was honoured when the Montreal Canadiens retired his famed number 3.SEE ALSOFuneral detailsHis bio"C" for CaptainJersey retirement ceremony