Habs legend Émile (Butch) Bouchard dies at 92

Butch Bouchard

Very sad news out of the Canadiens family this Saturday morning: former captain Émile (Butch) Bouchard, a member of the Habs from 1941-56, died early this morning at Longueuil in South Shore Montreal following a long illness. Surrounded by his family, including son Pierre, a fellow former Habs defenceman, Big Butch was 92.

Bouchard captained the Canadiens from 1948-56, following goaler Bill Durnan with the C and succeeded by Maurice (Rocket) Richard. The 1966 Hall of Fame-inductee was a strapping stay-at-home defenceman who could get the job done with punishing force. He won the Stanley Cup four times with the Habs, incredibly arriving with the team just six years after he’d learned to skate.

Don’t miss Kevin Shea’s terrific one-on-one feature chronicling a remarkable life in and out of hockey. None other than the great Jean Béliveau said that Big Butch “served as my model” as captain of the Canadiens, which Béliveau wore with legendary distinction from 1961 through his retirement in 1971.

• Butch at Legends of Hockey.
• Butch’s career statistics.
Story at RDS on his passing.

Canadiens goaltender Gerry McNeil sprawls to make a save against the Detroit Red Wings at the Detroit Olympia during an early 1950s game, defenceman Émile (Butch) Bouchard moving in to clear the rebound. McNeil, who died in June 2004, had stored this remarkable photo for decades in a wooden barrel in his basement, folded in half (the sharp crease remains visible down the middle of the image). It was discovered by the goaler’s son, David McNeil, who kindly offered it to The Gazette in 2009.
© James (Scotty) Kilpatrick, courtesy David McNeil

Highlights from the Canadiens’ centennial game ceremony, during which the Habs retired Butch’s No. 3 and fellow icon Elmer Lach’s No. 16:

In French, a nice video profile of Butch:

Wonderful 1958 visit to the home of Butch:

1947-48 Canadiens, the season before Big Butch (middle, back row) assumed the captaincy. Goaler Bill Durnan was wearing the C, having inherited it from the injured and retiring Toe Blake (front row, right).
James Rice Studio photo

Canadiens in 1952-53. Captain Butch Bouchard now wearing the C; beside him: a rookie Jean Béliveau. Directly beneath them: Bernie Geoffrion, Dickie Moore.

Butch (left) and fellow Habs icon Elmer Lach enjoy a cool convertible parade from the Montreal Forum to the new Molson Centre in March 1996.
John Mahoney, Gazette

Butch (left) and Elmer settle in for their club’s historic team photo at the Canadiens’ centennial game on Dec. 4, 2009.
François Lacasse, NHLI via Getty Images


  1. H.Upmann says:

    Way to go Sens!!!!!!!!!! Just watching highlights right now and can’t believe how much thuggery and running of players is happening this playoffs season. Especially running of goalies.

  2. zak says:

    Glen Healy for GM

    Hire the best regardless of language

  3. alwayssunny says:

    Great pics and video. 92 years, I hope he enjoyed every one of them. He sure gave others a lot of joy.

  4. Timo says:

    It’s war in NYC. Good for them. Old time style.

  5. twilighthours says:

    Which one is the active thread? This one? The Flyers/Pens article?

  6. adamkennelly says:

    I love these pics…the top one is awesome, I’d like to blow it up and put it on the wall in my hockey watching room – if I had one…tonight would be way better if there was a Habs game on…

  7. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …no one writes nostalgia better than Dave Stubbs
    …some great cameos here on the ‘presence’ that Butch had on Our D in those great years
    …what a stud He was

  8. C-Sword says:

    Caps won! That Holtby guy is simply amazing!

  9. Habsfan88 says:

    RIP Bouchard

  10. AllHailTheFlower says:

    My thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends of Mr. Bouchard.

    Just watched Backstrom put one past Thomas in double OT – nice to see Holtby get the W, the kid’s got stones.

  11. Timo says:

    Holy crap, capitals are the opposite of Hunter. All of them. Sigh. Sadly Bruins will be through to the second round easily.

  12. Stev.R says:

    Hardest Pouliot ever went to the net in his life.

    Goodbye Butch

  13. habsfan0 says:

    Legends…icons…don’t really die..their memory lives on forever..

    100 years ago tonight, RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sunk..
    people TODAY are STILL talking about it..as they probably will 100 years from now.

    In this sense, Titanic truly was “unsinkable”.

    Emile “Butch” Bouchard is equally unsinkable, as his memory will live on in perpetuity.

    Farewell, but not goodbye.

  14. deuce6 says:

    RIP, “Butch”…You will be missed..I would like to add this to the thread..

    “Meet you on the other side..”



    Yes, I’m a Hab fan..Wanna fight about it?

  15. sprague cleghorn says:

    RIP Butch

  16. Rest in peace Mr Bouchard. Legends don’t die.
    You will be alive forever in the hearts of us Habs fans.

  17. Mattyleg says:

    (Hey bud, maybe we should keep other talk to the previous thread…!)

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  18. HabsInHamilton says:

    I was at the Pittsburgh – Philly game last night, and I would have to disagree. That was one of the most exciting games I have seen in quite some time. There were tremendous hits, non-stop scoring, 2 hat-tricks for ONE team, a short handed goal by the flyers followed by a power play goal 6 seconds later. It had it all. And the atmosphere was just outstanding. Overall it was a hell of a game.

  19. During the 04 lock out, I was so upset with the players that I swore off hockey (for the lock out lol). I then wrote every single Canadiens’ Hall of Famer and thanked them for what they did for the game. I received replies from all but Dryden and Tretiak (he’s a Hab to me, great story actually). Butch was very nice, and sent me a picture autographed to my boy.
    Our heroes of the game are getting older, thank them while you can. You may never get another chance.

    They Call Me Shane
    “They never asked to be Canadiens, they were Chosen.”
    Shane Oliver
    Twitter @Sholi2000
    Custom Sports Figures
    Ph 204-724-8418
    Emal- hockey@sholi2000.com

  20. mrhabby says:

    Disagree. The pitt,flyer game was tremendous…wide open hitting..lots of big plays, mistakes, great saves it had so much how could you not enjoy it.

  21. Trisomy 21 says:

    You are going straight to hell for bringing up hockey on a hockey blog. Blasphemer.

  22. habstrinifan says:

    Because of a scare which I am dealig with today this news hits close to home.

    RIP Sir.

  23. Thurston says:

    RIP Butch. I remember my dad telling me stories of all the Habs he watched during the 1950s, Butch included.
    At least Butch lived to see his #3 retired by the Canadiens.

  24. Habsolutely says:

    So sad to see another Hab legend pass. He is a big part of my Habs Wall of Fame. Condolences to the family.

    My Butch Bouchard auto’d 8×10

    My Hab legends wall of fame.

  25. BJ says:

    I remember his last game watching it on tv. He didn’t play much in the final game of Montreal’s 1st of 5 Stanley Cups, Toe Blake was coaching, he put him on for the last shift of the game as he had already decided his retirement and was on for one last hurrah as a player. Funny coincidence as just yesterday I was filing some photos and came a cross one of him fighting Lou Fontinato of the Rangers. Not many players wanted to try him on. The heavens greet another one of the greatest Habs.

  26. habsfan0 says:

    Sad, sad news.

    Condolences to the Bouchard family.

  27. Propwash says:

    RIP Butch!

    “Access Forbidden” gettin’ ya down?
    Hold down Shift while clicking refresh.

  28. ZepFan2 says:

    Another great one leaves us. 🙁

    Thanks for the memories, M. Bouchard.

    “I got a feeling, a feeling deep inside” – Lennon/McCartney

    I’ve got a feeling

  29. Clay says:

    RIP Butch

    ☞ Wow, that’s a nice lookin’ pair of Crocs!” Said no one ever.☜

  30. sprague cleghorn says:

    I never got to see him play, but I will never forget the last night of the Forum, when the passing of the torch began with Butch, standing in the Habs’ locker room, picking up the torch and striding like Zeus out onto the ice surface, flame held high.

    That and him waving farewell to the crowd at the 100th anniversary.

    As the old country song asks, “Who’s gonna fill their shoes?”

  31. frontenac1 says:

    Rest in peace Butch.We will not forget.

  32. Mattyleg says:

    Condolances to the Bouchard family.
    Big Butch did Montreal, Quebec, and La Flannelle proud.
    What a captain, what a defenseman, what a legend.
    Rest in peace.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  33. Marc10 says:

    Sincere condolences to Pierre and family.

    Good on ya Ron Fournier for championing his jersey retirement for the 100th anniversary of the franchise and for educating many generations of Hab fans who never saw the man play on what a true warrior and legend Butch was.

    RIP Butch.

  34. DorvalTony says:

    Now there was a captain! God bless.

    Thanks for listening, Geoff Molson.

  35. commandant says:

    Farewell to a legend. RIP.

    Go Habs Go!

  36. issie74 says:

    Thanks For The Memories Butch!God Bless.


  37. GJH10 says:

    RIP Butcher#3 one of the nicest guys I EVER had the pleasure of meeting ! Condolences to the Bouchard family.

  38. Mike D says:

    R.I.P. Butch. Thank you for contributing to the legacy of the Montreal Canadiens.

    – Honestly yours
    Twitter: @de_benny

  39. Les Canayens says:

    Never saw Émile Bouchard play, but after witnessing the outcry when his number was not retired all these years before they finally did, allowed me to learn his importance to the heritage of this team.

    My sincere condolences.

  40. RGM says:

    Sad news indeed. One of our greats. RIP Butch.


    GO HABS GO! 2011-12 is probably not our year!
    “Scott Gomez is an elite NHL player” – VancouverHab

    Chat with me on Twitter @TheRealRGM81

  41. secretdragonfly says:

    Always a very sad day when we lose one of the great players. Rest well, M. Bouchard.

  42. Goderichab says:

    R.I.P. M. Bouchard, I remember you well…
    With Ken Reardon you were a tough pair that few could crack…
    Condolences to the family..You deserve your rest!!

    I remember the dynasties…

  43. Sami says:

    Sad day indeed..as we lose another great one.

  44. Cal says:

    RIP to a great Hab who finally received his due. Condolences to his family and friends.

  45. Psycho29 says:

    RIP Monsieur Bouchard….a true legend….
    My late Dad told me he was probably the physically strongest player he’d ever seen..and had a pretty popular resto back in the day…

  46. smiler2729 says:

    God bless, Butch, true Habs class has taken another hit.

  47. Habfan10912 says:

    RIP Butch. Job well done. Two things we all would like to see in our last day, “92 years old” and more importantly “surrounded by family”. God bless.

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