During his time with the Detroit Red Wings, Henry Boucha would be gaining acclaim for his head gear and his quick sniping abilities. One of the most popular players to suit up for the team during the early 1970s, Boucha died Monday at the age of 72.
His signature headband made the mustachioed Boucha instantly recognizable on the ice. Boucha first donned the headband for a Red Wings game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 14, 1973.
Henry Boucha was a member of the #RedWings for 159 games from 1971-74.
Our hearts are with his family and friends. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/uEJzQh5A3R
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 19, 2023
“It’s a gimmick,” Boucha admitted to United Press International at the time. “But it also keeps the sweat out of my eyes and hair out of my face while I’m playing.”
Just eight games after donning his new head gear, Boucha would be setting a Red Wings franchise record that remains on the books to this day. At the Montreal Forum on Jan. 28, 1973, Boucha beat Montreal Canadiens goalie Wayne Thomas only six seconds following the opening faceoff. Swatting a pass from Bill Collins home via a backhander, it’s still the fastest goal ever scored by a Red Wings player from the start of a game.
Boucha Joined Red Wings Following Olympic Success
After helping the USA win a silver medal at the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, Boucha would turn pro with Detroit. He was among five players from that squad who’d go on to suit up for the Wings. Mark Howe, Tom Mellor, Robbie Ftorek, and Tim Sheehy were the others. The Red Wings selected Boucha 16th overall in the 1971 NHL amateur draft.
In his NHL debut on Feb. 22, 1972, he would score his first NHL goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Hall of Fame goalie Jacques Plante. Mickey Redmond drew the primary assist on the goal. Then he’d go another 48 games before netting goal No. 2.
For all his popularity, Boucha would play just 159 games for Detroit. A legend in Minnesota high school hockey, the Red Wings traded the Warroad, Minnesota-born Boucha to the Minnesota North Stars for Danny Grant in 1974. Grant would be 50-goal scorer for the Red Wings in 1974-75. Meanwhile, that same season, Boucha suffered a severe eye injury when butt ended by Dave Forbes of the Boston Bruins. The assault led to a court case, while the injury eventually proved career ending for Boucha, who was done playing pro hockey by the age of 24.
Boucha returned to live in Detroit for a brief time, playing for the Red Wings Alumni and even working in the team’s marketing department. He never forget how the Red Wings faithful had embraced him.
“Detroit is a great city for sports people,” Boucha told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1979. “The people there really take care of their athletes. I played two and a half years there and I have nothing but good things to say about Detroit.”
Returning to his home state, Boucha, one-quarter Chippewa and Ojibway, would work tirelessly for Native American causes. He was enshrined in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995.