The officiating community suffered a big loss today, as long-time referee Butch Mousseau passed away from a head injury suffered prior to a WCHA game last Friday. 

WCHA Referee Butch Mousseaux

WCHA Referee Butch Mousseaux

Mousseau, 48, fell during warm-ups prior to a game between Ferris State and Michigan Tech.  He was skating backwards with his hands in his pockets, and was not wearing a helmet at the time of his injury. 

“It’s just shocking to me how it happened,” Mousseaux’s wife, Macaire, told MLive.  “I get the logistics of it all that he had his hands in his pockets and was just casually skating backward and tripped somehow. He didn’t have an opportunity to break his fall and slammed his head.”

He is survived by his wife, Macaire, and his three children. 

Mousseau’s impact can be felt throughout the officiating community, as evidenced by the tremendous outpouring of support and donations received. 

From Mousseau’s GoFundMe page: 

It is often said amongst those of us in the officiating community that the only team that never loses is the Referees. Well, this morning our team lost. Oliver ‘Butch’ Mousseau passed away this morning after sustaining a pre-game head injury in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Butch was a rarity. He was not only loved by his fellow officials, but also by the coaches and players in the games he worked. What made Butch so special were his communication skills with the coaches and players.

Butch always had a smile on his face and an ability to make everyone on the ice know they were going to be treated fairly and with respect. 

I hope that all of us that knew Butch will take a few minutes today to think about him, our memories of him, and his legacy. Most of all, I know all of our deepest condolences go out to his family.

Butch, rest in peace and keep those players and coaches in line until we see you again. You’ll always be among the best in our book.

Mousseau has been an official with USA Hockey since 1998, with the past 13 years officiating in the WCHA.  He’s also spent time in the NCHC, Central Hockey League, East Coast Hockey League, and American Hockey League.  

#12 Tribute to Butch Mousseau

Officials working the NCAA Regional in Cincinnati tonight honored Mousseau by wearing his number on their helmets (Photo: Andrew Knapik)

He also worked as an IIHF linesman, handling the 2007 U18 World Championship in Finland and the 2006 World Championship (Division II, Group B) in New Zealand.

Additionally, Mousseau became the NHL’s first Native American official after he worked an NHL preseason game. His NHL sweater and skates are in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. 

The WCHA and NCHC released a joint statement on Mousseau’s passing.

“We are saddened beyond belief by the tragic passing of Oliver ‘Butch’ Mousseau,” said WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson. “Words cannot express the depth of sorrow we feel, or the sympathy the WCHA, our member institutions and fellow officials extend to Butch’s wife, Macaire, their children, Sam (SJ), Abbie and Olivia, and the rest of the Mousseau family. At the end of the day, hockey is just a game. It is a special game because of the people involved, and Butch was one of the all-time greats who left an indelibly positive impact upon everyone whom he came in contact with. The WCHA is, and always will be, a better league because of Butch’s involvement.”

“It is fitting that one of the last things Butch said to me was, ‘I’ll do a great job for you today,’ and said it with a smile,” commented WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd. “That was Butch in a nutshell – the consummate professional on the ice and a wonderful, positive human being. I have been involved with the WCHA for 39 years, and he was one of the best – not just at calling the game between the boards, but in his communication with players, coaches and administrators. Butch was universally respected for his work on the ice and beloved for his kind and generous spirit to all, along with his love for the great sport of hockey at all levels. He was truly a very special person, and I will miss him dearly. My heart goes out to his family.”

“The NCHC family, including our membership, officials and conference staff, are saddened to learn that Oliver ‘Butch’ Mousseau has passed away,” NCHC Commissioner Josh Fenton said. “Butch impacted the game of hockey in so many positive ways. More importantly, he was our friend who will be remembered for his fun-loving spirit and passionate soul toward life. Our thoughts go out to Butch’s wife, Macaire, his children, Sam, Abbie and Olivia, and his entire family during this difficult time.”

KUSA reported on Mousseau’s passing.