1971 NHL Entry Draft Pick
Round Overall
2 16
Henry Boucha
Selected by Detroit from United States National Team
Detroit Red Wings Team USA
Henry Boucha

6-foot-0, 185 pounds

Right-hand shot


Pre-Draft Statistics

Year Team League GP G A TP PIM
1968-69 Warroad Minn.HS 25 60 35 95 --
1969-70Winnipeg WCHL 51 27 26 53 37
1970-71 Team USA IIHF 49 30 27 57 12

Pre-Draft Notes

Also played defense. ... Also played football, baseball, tennis at Warroad High.
American • Born June 1, 1951 in Warroad, Minnesota • Hometown: Warroad, Minnesota

Career Vitals

First contract: February 21, 1972
Debut: February 22, 1972
(Detroit vs. Toronto)
Final NHL game: November 10, 1976
(Colorado vs. Cleveland)
Retired: January 1977
Stanley Cup: Never won
Numbers worn: 12, 16 (Detroit); 9 (Minnesota);
16 (Kansas City/Colorado)

Career NHL Statistics

Teams: Detroit, Minnesota, Kansas City/Colorado
Years: 1967-1979. Playoffs: None

Regular Season
6 years 247 53 49 102 157
Stanley Cup Playoffs
0 years 0 0 0 0 0
Complete statistics available at NHL.com 

Pre-Draft Highlights

Played on Warroad High School team that lost to Edina in the 1969 Minnesota high school state tournament finals. He was injured during the game, which Warroad lost 5-4 in overtime. .... Played on Team USA as an 18-year-old at the 1970 IIHF World Championship Pool B tournament in Romania after taking part in six pre-tournament games with team. He was the only player under 20 to make the team. ... Scored four goals and added one assist in seven games for U.S. team that went 7-0-0 to win the 1970 Pool B championship and advance to Group A for the following year's tournament. ... Played on Team USA as a 19-year-old at the 1971 IIHF World Championship tournament in Bern, Switzerland. ... Scored seven goals and added one assist in 10 games for U.S. team that finished sixth overall. His seven goals tied for the Team USA lead.

Career Highlights

Also played left wing and right wing. ... Was No. 1 overall amateur pick by Minnesota Fighting Saints in the 1972 WHA General Player Draft. ... Scored a goal against Hall of Famer Jacques Plante in his first NHL game for Detroit on Feb. 22, 1972, vs. Toronto. His goal came at 9:47 of the second period to spark a five-goal comeback from a 4-0 deficit. ... Won Detroit Rookie of Year award for 1972-73. ... Set NHL record (since broken) by scoring six seconds into Detroit's Jan. 28, 1973, game at Montreal. The goal, scored against Montreal's Wayne Thomas, broke the previous record of seven seconds, set by Charlie Conacher on Feb. 6,1932. ... Played on first Colorado Rockies team after franchise (that became New Jersey Devils) relocated from Kansas City to Denver, and appeared in the team's first game as the Colorado Rockies on Oct. 5, 1976, vs. Toronto. ... Ranked as fifth greatest player in Minnesota high school hockey history by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in 2011.

A Silver Medal in Sapporo

At age 20, Boucha was a key player on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that shocked the hockey world by winning a silver medal in Sapporo, Japan. Boucha, who had been to the Worlds twice as a teen-ager, had two goals and six points in the six USA games at the Olympics. In all games played for Team USA in 1971-72, Boucha was the team's leading scorer with 91 points. Many scouts noted that despite his age, he was the best player on the entire team. Boucha came home to more good news, as he became the first of the 1972 Olympians to sign an NHL contract and play in the NHL. He also got his official release from the U.S. Army so that he could enter NHL.

The Man in the Headband

In the 1970s, Henry Boucha had a huge impact on the U.S. hockey scene, first by winning a silver medal with the 1972 U.S. Olympic team and then by making a big splash in the NHL. Boucha's talent was undeniable, but the thing most fans will remember about him (apart from his involvement in the Dave Forbes case) is the fact that he wore a headband on the ice. At a time when few NHL players wore helmets, and hair often flowed across the rinks, Boucha kept his own hair in place with a basketball-style headband. Prior to Boucha, no NHL player had ever been seen wearing such a headband in games. Buffalo's Rick Dudley would soon follow, but Boucha was the original headband-wearer. Although he wore a helmet during the Olympics and his brief NHL stint in 1971-72, he began wearing the headband during his first full season with Detroit in 1972-73. Boucha had grown his hair long, which was a problem because it kept getting into his eyes and causing problems with his contact lenses. The headband was suggested to him by a friend. Boucha was an avid tennis player, and players like Bjorn Borg were making headbands popular in tennis at the time. He became something of a national sensation with it when he appeared on back-to-back U.S. national Sunday afternoon TV broadcasts. In the TV game on Jan. 28, 1973, he set an NHL record with a goal just six seconds into a victory at Montreal. The headband would become his trademark, and he wore a variety of colors and styles during his NHL career. Boucha was a rarity for other reasons, too -- he was an American playing in an NHL that was almost entirely made up of Canadians. Not only that, he was a full-blooded Ojibwa (Chippewa) Native American. His ethnicity only seemed to add to his legend. In fact, Boucha was said to have worn the headband to draw attention to himself so that young Native players would see that one of their own had reached the NHL. Unfortunately, in a sign of the era, the rest of the hockey world wasn't terribly diverse, and it engaged did something that would almost surely be considered offensive today. Whenever Boucha took the ice in Detroit or many other U.S. cities, the arena music directors would play Indian war chants in an effort to draw humorous attention to Boucha solely because of his ethnicity. In the years after his retirement, Boucha has worked hard to encourage diversity in hockey as a member of the NHL's Diversity Task Force and in the countless speeches he has given to discuss his own story and the opportunities available to others who come from non-traditional hockey backgrounds.

Life Outside the NHL

Full Name: Henry Charles Boucha
Nickname: "The Chief"
Pronunciation: BOO-shay

Other Post-Draft Teams: Warroad (CCHL); Team USA; Virginia (AHL); Minnesota (WHA)

Education: Attended University of Detroit.

Career Beyond Hockey: Moved to Seattle after retirement and worked as a travel agent. He later returned to Warroad, Minn., and went into the real estate business, joining Warroad's Pahlen Realty in 1987. He later moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where he worked for a technology company, and then moved back to Warroad in 2011 to found Boucha Films, a company whose documentaries chronicle the lives of Native American Olympians.
Boucha's Official Site
Boucha on LinkedIn

Family: First cousin, once removed, of NHL player T.J. Oshie. T.J. Oshie's father, Tim, is Boucha's first cousin. ... Distant cousin of former NHL player Gary Sargent and former minor-leaguer Earl Sargent. ... Father of former minor-leaguers Henry Boucha Jr. and J.P. Boucha.

Transaction History

Aug. 27, 1974 -- Traded by Detroit to Minnesota in exchange for Danny Grant. June 6, 1975 -- Signed WHA contract with Minnesota Fighting Saints. Dec. 9, 1975 -- NHL rights traded by Minnesota to Kansas City in exchange for 1978 second-round pick (Steve Christoff). Jan. 5, 1976 -- Agreed in principle to NHL contract with Kansas City. Jan. 28, 1976 -- Left Minnesota (WHA) team to join Kansas City and was suspended without pay by Minnesota. Feb. 6, 1976 -- Released by Minnesota (WHA). Feb. 7, 1976 -- Signed NHL contract with Kansas City. Dec. 17, 1976 -- Suspended (with pay) by Colorado for remainder of season due to problems with his vision.

Attacked by Bruins' Forbes

On Jan. 4, 1975, late in the first period of Minnesota's 8-0 home loss to Boston, Boucha was viciously attacked by Bruins left wing Dave Forbes, who jammed the butt end of his stick directly into the area above Boucha's right eye. The brutal attack by Forbes opened up a gash on Boucha's face that required nearly 30 stitches just to close. The incident was related to some bad blood between the players that had developed earlier in the period. At 8:22 of the first, Forbes had fought Boucha, and both players had received seven minutes in penalties. Forbes' Boston teammate Terry O'Reilly had also jumped into that fight and was tossed for the game for joining it. Just under 16 minutes into the period, Boucha and Forbes exited the penalty boxes at the same moment. As soon as they came out of the boxes, Forbes tried to goad Boucha into a second fight. Boucha would have none of it, so Forbes, holding his stick in his right hand, reached around to punch Boucha and caught the side of Boucha's face with the butt end of his stick, rather than his glove. Boucha, who did not see Forbes' stick coming, fell to the ice. Forbes then jumped on him and began punching the defenseless Boucha until the linesmen separated the players. Boucha had to be rushed to the hospital to tend to the area around his right eye. Reports after the game said that Forbes had been heard yelling at Boucha as they sat in the penalty boxes, and that he had made threats, saying he would "get him" once the penalties ended. Forbes was thrown out of the game, and the NHL subsequently began investigating the incident. Given the ferocity of Forbes' blow, it was only luck that saved Boucha from a far more serious injury. "I thought my eye was gone," he later said. Doctors later said that Forbes would have, indeed, destroyed the vision in Boucha's eye if the stick had connected just one half inch lower. Forbes phone Boucha in the hospital the next day to apologize for what he had done, but Boucha refused to comment on the apology when he was released from the hospital not long after taking Forbes' call. Meanwhile, the incident drew enough attention to arouse concerns from local law enforcement at a time when hockey violence in general seemed to be out of control. On Jan. 7, 1975, the Hennepin County attorney's office announced it was investigating Forbes' actions to determine if he could be charged for a crime. On Jan. 11, Boucha had surgery to correct a double-vision problem and eye-socket fracture that resulted from the injury, and the North Stars announced that he would be out for longer than initially expected. That same day, Hennepin County Attorney Gary Flakne announced that the Forbes case would be presented to a grand jury to determine if charges should be filed. On Jan. 14, NHL President Clarence Campbell held a seven-hour hearing in Minneapolis involving Forbes and Boucha, who was in no condition to fly to Montreal. Campbell acknowledged that the league did not have sufficient video evidence of the incident to know exactly what had happened. After Campbell met with the players, word got out that a Hennepin County grand jury had indicted Forbes on a felony charge of aggravated assault (assault with a deadly weapon), and the Bruins player would have to stand trial in Minnesota. The maximum penalty could be up to 10 years in prison. On Jan. 15, as Flakne prepared to announce the charge against Forbes, Campbell announced a 10-game suspension without pay for Forbes. He would be suspended for nine games and also kept out of the next game between the Bruins and North Stars in Minnesota. Bruins general manager Harry Sinden argued vehemently that the punishment was too harsh for a first-time offender like Forbes, and Bruins players threatened to boycott the 1975 NHL All-Star Game, but Campbell held firm. "This is one of the most vicious incidents that I have ever been called upon to deal with," Campbell wrote in explaining his decision. Forbes' attorney, Joseph Keough, said that the 10-game suspension would bias any potential jury before the criminal case began. Forbes said only that the Boucha injury was an "accident" -- he said he meant to hit Boucha from behind with his hand, not his stick -- and asked teammates not to boycott the All-Star Game, although he appreciated their desire to support him. On Jan. 17, the criminal charges became official, as Forbes was charged with aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, punishable by a minimum of three years in prison and  maximum of five years and a $5,000 fine. On Jan. 20, Boston coach Bep Guidolin asked Campbell if Forbes could play in the NHL All-Star Game to replace the injured Johnny Bucyk. This request was sharply denied. On Jan. 24, Forbes appeared before a Hennepin County judge and pleaded "not guilty" Forbes was told to return to the court in Minneapolis on May 19 for a pre-trial hearing that his attorneys requested. On May 19, after the hearling, Judge Stanley Kane set a July 7 start date for Forbes' jury trial. Forbes' trial received widespread media coverage because no athletie in American professional sports had ever previously faced criminal prosecution for an in-game act. The jury for the trial consisted of seven men and five women, none of whom said they knew much about hockey. Opening remarks began on July 9. Ironically, by the time the trial began, Boucha had already signed with the Minnesota Fighting Saints to spend the 1975-76 season in the WHA. Witnesses included NHL linesman John Brown, Boucha himself, the penalty-box timekeeper, the scoreboard operator, and North Stars player Murray Oliver, who said Forbes used his stick as an "extension of his fist". The prosecution worked hard to establish that Forbes had threatened Boucha in the penalty box and then carried out his threats on the ice. Boucha also testifed that he continued to suffer from double-vision that affected his performance. Three other witnesses, including the public-address announcer testified that they had seen Boston coach Don Cherry congratulate Forbes by putting his arm around him and patting him on the back when he skated back to the bench after Boucha was injured. Ken Hodge was also said to have been very congratulatory of Forbes. On July 15, Campbell testified in front of the jury, discussing the events of the Jan. 14 hearing in which Forbes had admitted to hitting Boucha in the eye with his stick. Campbell also said that he did not believe Forbes had ever intended to injure Boucha in such a severe way and that Forbes had been entirely honest with him about what had happened. He could not explain why Forbes had not dropped his stick before challenging Boucha to fight. The defense made Cherry its first witness, and Cherry admitted to having encouraged his players to be more physical during the road trip that involved the Jan. 4 game. Cherry said he was worried about losing his job on that road trip, and the players were feeding off his intense desire to win. "It's always been my philosphy to win at all costs," Cherry said. Cherry also said he patted Forbes on the back after the incident as a show of compassion, since Forbes was immediately remorseful and practically in tears as Boucha was taken off hte ice. Cherry said he went back to the dressing room with Forbes, whose sense of guilt was overwhelming. He said Forbes wanted to go to the hospital with Boucha. On July 16, Forbes himself testified, arguing vehemently that he had not intended to injure Boucha and that the contact with his stick was accidental. He was adamant that he had not used the butt end of his stick as a deliberate weapon and had never intended to do so. Forbes said he was angry at Boucha over a sucker punch in the earlier fight, which was why he had been yelling at him in the penalty box, but he had no intention of inflicting the kind of damage that resulted from his punch. He said he was trying to engage Boucha in another fight when the injury was inflicted. After Forbes' testimony, defense attorneys argued that Forbes was only being prosecuted because he was a member of the visiting team, and that no Minnesota player would have been charged in similar fashion. Tthe case went to the jury. After seven hours of deliberation, jurors emerged on July 17 and told Judge Ralph Fosseen that they were having difficulty reaching a verdict. They resumed their deliberations on July 18. Late on the evening of Friday, July 18, the jury announced that it could not reach a unanimous verdict. The final vote among the jurors had been 9-3 in favor of conviction on simple assault charges. The maximum penalty for that would have been 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. Three of the male jurors had told the other jurors they would never vote to convict Forbes of anything. The judge declared a hung jury, and prosecutors were offered the option of re-trying Forbes at a later date. On Aug. 12, the date to make such a decision, Flakne announced that prosecutors would not press further since the first trial had shown how difficult it would be to get a conviction. Flakne then requested that the court dismiss the case. Sadly, the actual legacy of the Forbes attack was the damage it did to Boucha's hockey career. The double-vision problem never fully corrected itself, and Boucha would play only 36 WHA games and 37 more in the NHL before he opted to retire at age 25. In January 1976, months after the Forbes case was dropped, Boucha filed a $3.5 million lawsuit against the NHL, the Boston Bruins, and Forbes in Michigan's Wayne County Circuit Court. The suit asked for $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages. He also sued the Detroit Red Wings in order to get the case into Wayne County, arguing that the Red Wings were also liable for his injury because they were part of the league. The lawsuit was settled out of court on Aug. 26, 1980.

Significant Injuries

Missed part of 1974-75 with gash above right eye, suffered when attacked by Dave Forbes during Minnesota's Jan. 4, 1975, game vs. Boston. The injury required surgery, and he did not return until Feb. 22, 1975, game vs. Vancouver.


Selected by Minnesota Fighting Saints in 1972 WHA Draft, first-ever WHA Draft, February 1972. Was paired on defense at Warroad High School with future NHL player Al Hangsleben. Served in the U.S. Army during first two seasons after the draft from 1970 to 1972. Played senior amateur hockey with Warroad Lakers for part of 1971-72 before '72 Olympics.
Played on line with Red Berenson and Bill Collins for Detroit in 1972-73. Was on Detroit's top penalty-killing unit with Bill Collins during 1972-73 season. Was member of Kansas City team that relocated to Colorado on July 15, 1976. Suspended by Minnesota more than once in 1974-75 season for skipping practices.
Member of Minnesota (WHA) team that folded on Feb. 27, 1976, a month after he bailed. Testified before U.S. Congress on Sept. 30, 1980, about the problem of violence in sports. Worked as an instructor in hockey schools during off-seasons of his playing days. Convinced T.J. Oshie's family to move to Warroad, Minn., so T.J. could improve his game.
Has been an active supporter of Native American causes and charities throughout his life. Published his autobiography, Henry Boucha, Native American Olympian, in 2013.. Was the subject of biography called Henry Boucha: Star of the North, published in 1999. Named 47th most important sports figure in Minnesota history by Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Total Selected: 117
Forwards: 63
Defense: 45
Goaltenders: 9
Major Junior: 84
College Players: 19
Canadian: 107
Euro-Canadian: 2
American: 8
European: 0
Reached NHL: 50
Won Stanley Cup: 5
Hall of Fame: 3
All-Star Game: 10
Year-end All-Star: 5
Olympians: 4
Picks Traded: 18


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