Henry Boucha:

THE EAGLE AND THE END

As told to: Dave Bidini

In my career, I was a defensive forward who shadowed all of the team’s top players: Lemaire’s line in Montreal, Espo’s in Boston, Ratelle’s in New York, the French Connection. During one game in 1975, Dave Forbes of Boston was checking me, getting his elbows up a little. I let it go until he ran me in the corner. I stopped short, and when he came flying in, I grabbed him and knocked him down. Terry O’Reilly came over and jumped me and we all went to the box for five, plus a misconduct. We sat there stewing for 15 minutes; I remember Orr had done something and was in there, too. Looking back, I guess I’d embarrassed him, and because Don Cherry was his coach, I knew it wasn’t the end of it. When we got out of the box, I looked away for a moment, and then Murray Oliver shouted: “Look out!” Forbes had come on my right side from behind and he threw a punch as I turned around. Blood was spurting everywhere, my cheekbone crumpled. I went down in survival mode and I knew I was hurt.

Forbes jumped on my back and started hitting me. It was awful. I had a cracked bone around my eye and double vision. After the game, Forbes was charged with aggravated assault for hitting someone with a club. During the trial, 10 voted for conviction, one abstained, and one voted no, so it was a hung jury. When I went to the NHLPA to get help, Alan Eagleson wouldn’t return my calls. They were no help at all. I sued out of court and the suit was finally settled in 1980, but it ruined my chance to stay with another team. Ray Miron and the Colorado Rockies knew I had a suit coming and they wanted to nothing to do with me. They told the coach not to play me. I dressed for nine games and then decided to quit.

Blood was spurting everywhere, crumpling my cheekbone. I went down in survival mode and I knew I was hurt.

 After leaving hockey, I was devastated that I couldn’t play. I felt self-pity and depression. I was 25 years old walking out a door and into a world I didn’t know. I went to Seattle and filled out an employment form and realized I had no experience doing anything outside of working at Marvin Windows. I invested in a meat store in Spokane, but I was in a state of depression. I starting drinking heavily and did drugs and got divorced. The store went under. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to Idaho. I had no purpose or passion. One day, I found myself walking on a mountain bank when I found a whole golden eagle in a snowbank. Because of what the eagle represents in Aboriginal culture, I knew it was a symbol that something significant was going to happen, and when I returned for a visit to the place where I grew up – Warroad, Minnesota– my oldest daughter from my first marriage told me that she wanted to live with me. I settled at home and started coaching and working in a school district, doing work with Indian Affairs and family services.

The eagle had brought me back.


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