USA Hockey, its officiating education program and humanity as a whole lost one of the great ones on March 25, 2016. Oliver “Butch” Mousseaux passed away after being placed in a medically induced coma to treat severe head trauma from an accident that occurred one week earlier. Mousseaux was 48 years old and is survived by his wife Macaire and his three children Sam, Abbie and Olivia.
Butch will go down in officiating lore as quite simply being the “BEST” partner anyone could ever work with. I would go as far as saying that if you polled the hundreds (maybe evens thousands) of officials Butch had worked with over the years as to “If they had to pick one partner to work a big game with – who would it be?” the overwhelming majority of those officials would list Butch as their first choice. The qualities he brought to every game he worked included, but were not limited to: honesty, integrity, pride, communication, team-oriented, positive energy, integrity (again) and a passion for the game and his role as an official. In fact, it is not far-fetched to say that Butch is the model of what the USA Hockey Officiating Program Challenge coin stands for, which notes: “Pride, Integrity, Teamwork – For the Good of the Game.”
What made Butch special on the ice was a direct reflection of the man he was off the ice. I was first introduced to Butch in the late 1990s. He had taken a few years off from officiating and was just getting started up again – this time taking the role more seriously and even pursuing a career. In the fall of 1998, my wife (Vicki) and I started dating and after her successful run at the 1998 Winter Olympic Games as a referee, she had accepted the challenge to work in our Junior Officiating Development Program. On weekends, she would drive from Colorado Springs to Montana to work the America West Hockey League and on the way up would stop in Denver to pick up the linesman she would work with. There were two young men just getting started (Paul Carnathan and Josh Levine) and Butch. Vicki and Butch worked a bunch of games together that season, including a few trips to the Midwest to work the USHL. She would come home each weekend and rave about her lines partner – “this big guy from the Sioux Lakota Tribe” who she called her “guardian angel”. No matter what the situation (irate coach, belligerent player, cheap shot behind the play, etc.) she said Butch always was aware and had her back. As all of his partners would attest, that was the case both on and off the ice.
Butch was proud of his Native American heritage and used its history to form the basis of his spirituality. He was tremendously respected within his tribe and often spoke to his closest friends of his participation in tribal rituals and worked diligently over the years to contribute to a better lifestyle for his family and tribe mates on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His success on the ice, working at the highest levels both in the U.S. and internationally, was a huge sense of pride for his family and tribe – no one from their inner circle had done anything remotely like it before. He used his heritage to openly speak and promote diversity in the game and all walks of life and because of that, the skates and sweater he used during an NHL exhibition game are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Another unique thing about Butch was his sincerity and ability to always be able to provide direction to others, while struggling to find the answers to his own opportunities. No matter the circumstance, every conversation I had with Butch over the years started out with lengthy updates about our families and how they were doing. The conversation would next progress to some sort of dilemma he was having; be it a career opportunity, tough decision that needed to be made or even disappointment in himself for not being able to do more for his family, tribe or friends. At some point, he would say; “I don’t know what to do Matty” and then would proceed to tell me the options that he had and what he felt was best – which always turned out to be the right thing to do. On the flip side, anyone who ever came to him with a problem always received a warm greeting and direction that was practical, spiritual and caring. He was a beacon of light for so many, as evidenced by the posts on social media from people he has touched in all walks of life in and out of the game.
I will miss Butch dearly! Every time we spoke we mentioned we needed to get together more often or get the families together – it never happened enough. I am proud of the fact that my sons had a chance to meet Butch and one of the things that is most devastating is the fact they will not have him around to be the beacon for them that he was to Vicki and myself. Every boy and girl needs role models like Butch. No one, and I mean no one, was a better man than Butch Mousseaux. May he rest in peace!
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Click on Donate below and you will see Butch’s name, click there and you will find step by step instructions on how to donate.
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