The WCHA announced Tuesday it will retire the number of a beloved longtime league official who died after suffering critical head injuries stemming from a fall to the ice in March.
In addition to retiring the No. 12 worn by Oliver “Butch” Mousseau, game officials will wear a specially-designed “12” sticker on their helmets throughout the 2016-17 season, which opens this weekend.
“Butch Mousseau will forever be in our hearts and minds,” said WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd. “Nobody wore the officials’ jersey with more pride and love for the game than Butch. It is only fitting that the No. 12 be forever retired in his honor.”
Some WCHA schools will remember Mousseau by placing the number 12 in the referees’ circle on their home ice.
“The WCHA is, and always will be, a better league because of Butch’s involvement,” said WCHA President and Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson. “His legacy is one of the utmost professionalism, a truly infectious positivity and an ever-present smile that we would all do well to replicate. It is our hope that these small gestures are a reminder to us all of how lucky we are to have had Butch in our lives.”
Mousseau, 48, was a full-time WCHA referee for 16 seasons, beginning with the 2003-04 campaign; and, a part-time official in the NCHC since the league’s inception in 2013-14.
He was also a USA Hockey official since 1998, worked as a referee in the East Coast Hockey League beginning with the 1999-2000 season, and also had assignments in the American Hockey League (AHL) and now-defunct Central Hockey League (CHL).
As the first Native American to work a game at the top level of the sport, Mousseau’s National Hockey League (NHL) officials’ sweater and skates are in the league’s Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.
He died after falling during warm-ups prior to the second WCHA Final Five semifinal game on March 18 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Story and photo courtesy WCHA