Walter Bush, primary founder of the Minnesota North Stars and a former USA Hockey president, died Thursday. He was 86.
USA Hockey confirmed Bush’s death, saying: “Hockey mourns tonight the passing of USA Hockey’s Walter Bush, a pioneer in the game and one of the most beloved figures in the sport.”
A Minneapolis native, Bush was enshrined into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980, the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000 and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2009.
He was awarded the Olympic Order in 2002, after managing the 1959 U.S. national team and 1964 U.S. Olympic team and serving on the U.S. Olympic Committee in 1963.
Bush was selected the NHL’s Executive of the Year in 1972 by The Hockey News, and won the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1973 for his contributions to the sport in the United States. As USA Hockey president, Bush played a large role in the addition of women’s hockey to the Olympics in 1998.
“Walter Bush was a formidable presence at all levels of the hockey world,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “His impact was felt, nationally and internationally, in the professional and the amateur ranks, in women’s hockey as well as men’s. He … properly earned global respect for his devotion to the growth of hockey everywhere.”
Bush played high school hockey at Breck and was a hockey and football player in college at Dartmouth. While working on his law degree at the University of Minnesota, he helped start the Central Hockey League in 1955. He served as the league’s commissioner for three seasons and at one point owned, managed and coached the Minneapolis Bruins.
With the North Stars, Bush directed the merger with the Cleveland Barons in 1978.
Bush also owned the American Hockey League’s Kentucky Thoroughblades.