Much like the officials we cover here at Scouting the Refs, we try to go by the book. It’s all about understanding and interpreting the rules, or, in our case, reporting on the rules, their interpretation, and enforcement. The passing of referee Butch Mousseau, though, has prompted something a bit more personal.
I did not know Butch Mousseau. I’d never met the man.
Reading through the stories, the anecdotes, and the outpouring of support for his family, I truly wish I had.
It’s clear that Mousseau’s 48 years were not long enough. The way Butch spent those years – his commitment to and love for the game – will have a legacy greater than any lifetime.
His injury prompted an amazing response from officials at all levels and all leagues. The monetary donations to his family were significant — over $75,000 has been raised via GoFundMe and Dawg Hockey.
What’s been more overwhelming, though, are the personal stories. The lives Butch was able to touch. The people he’s impacted. The joy he’s brought to the game of hockey and the lives of everyone with whom he’s crossed paths. Here’s a man, it’s clear, who found joy in coming to the rink every day.
Life goes quick. Especially so when it comes to an unexpected end at age 48. Those who knew Butch, though, tell the story of a man whose life isn’t best captured in years, but in moments. Those small, possibly insignificant moments that we often take for granted, Butch made those significant.
Taking a moment to speak with a First Nations college hockey player before a game, sharing how proud he was of the young man on behalf of Native Americans.
Welcoming a first time official to the ice with a smile on his face and a supportive nature.
Finding a second to take a selfie with a timekeeper, playfully mugging for the camera.
Swapping skateguards with a younger official.
Admitting a mistake and apologizing to a player for a bad call.
It’s clear that Butch loved the game. It’s also clear that he loved the people who loved the game. He was selfless with his time, giving everything he could to help those around him. For that, we are all better off.
I may not know Butch, but I hope to know his impact. I hope to see younger officials, inspired by their interactions with Butch, continue in the sport, thinking of him each time they pull on the striped jersey. I hope to see those referees working their way up the ladder one day make it to the NHL, with Butch’s words echoing in their minds as they take their first skate in the National Hockey League.
No, I can never know Butch, but I can know what he meant to the officiating world.
To those of you fortunate enough to have met Butch, he’s left you with a responsibility. It’s up to you to carry that torch. Never forget the man Mousseau was, or the impact he may have had on your life. It’s up to you to be someone else’s ‘Butchy’. Find a way to continue his legacy.
Inspire others. Bring joy to the rink. Work hard, and do it with a smile.
Make him proud.
Thanks to all who have shared their experiences at Get Better Butchy. Keep on sharing those moments.