The rock of the French Canadians


Reading in recent days the biography of Émile “Butch” Bouchard, whose official launch takes place today, I wondered why this book hadn’t been made before.

The work is signed Pat Laprade. Yes, the same Pat Laprade who co-hosts with Kevin Raphaël the broadcasts of the WWE Raw wrestlingat TVA Sport.

Considered the go-to for wrestling in Quebec, Pat has a knack for writing. He wrote the biographies of Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon and Géant Ferré.

Hockey is a passion for him too. The idea of ​​telling the story of a former Canadian had been on his mind for a long time.

So in December 2020, at the suggestion of his former publisher André Gagnon, Pat embarked on the research and writing of the life of “Butch” Bouchard.

Among his references, a long interview on the life of “Butch” conducted in 2007 by his son Jean. Completed in February and published by Libre Expression, the book has 360 pages, and none too many.

I’ll tell you: I’m hooked!


Archive photo

Captain “Butch” has won the Stanley Cup four times, including in 1956.

Reference for young people

The book tells the story of Quebec, the Canadiens and hockey from the 1920s to the 1980s through Bouchard’s life and career.

I had already read a similar book, but in English. Entitled: The last innocentthe book was about 1960s American life and the civil rights of African Americans, with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a backdrop.

Also, if I can send a message to the younger generation, read the biography of “Butch” Bouchard.

You will learn all about what your great grandparents went through during the Second World War, the Great Darkness, the arrival of television, the Silent Revolution and the rise of Quebec nationalism.

man of belief

At a time when French Canadians, as we were called, were seen as water carriers byinstitution English, Bouchard stood out for his strength of character, his negotiating skills and his business acumen. He was also recognized for his selflessness, his social commitment and the concern he had for his family.

If Maurice Richard was the idol of the French-Canadian people, “Butch” Bouchard would have been their rock. He learned at a very young age to make his way in life. He started beekeeping, work that he continued playing with the Canadiens.

He happened to miss his boot camp debut while harvesting honey. Even though management gave him this permission, he didn’t like it.

In those days, teams required their players to devote themselves entirely to their sport. However, knowing that he wouldn’t play hockey all his life, Bouchard was preparing for his future and that of his five children – one girl and four boys – who he raised with his beautiful Marie-Claire.

Defender number 3 then decided to hang up his skates.

Archive photo

Defender number 3 then decided to hang up his skates.

Late call

The practice of hockey came late in his life. His career began in the mid-1930s; he was then 15 or 16 years old.

The work came quickly. In 1941 he made his debut with the Canadiens. Seven years later, he became the first French-Canadian captain elected by his peers.

The man was running to get what he wanted. He wasn’t waiting in line with the other Habs players at the door of the CEO’s office to sign his contract. The “Rocket” relied on him to negotiate the of him.

The two have often come to terms, first with Tom Gorman and then with Frank Selke, hours or even minutes before the opening of the regular season.

Not intimidated by the mafia

Nobody intimidated Bouchard, whether in the world of hockey, in everyday life or in the sometimes stormy business world.

The godfather of the Montreal mafia of the time, Vic Cotroni, wanted to exercise control over the operations of the restaurant owned by Bouchard in rue Saint-Luc – now boulevard De Maisonneuve -, Dupuis Frères intervenes behind the building of the old shop.

The tension grew to the point that Bouchard felt the need to carry a revolver, which he placed in the glove compartment of his car. He meets Cotroni, who eventually leaves him alone.

Buy the book!

It is worth it


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