As a cold rain and snow mix fell outside Cross and Crown Church in Colorado Springs Thursday, David Forbes was remembered warmly inside – a godly family man who used his controversial and colorful professional hockey career, his successful financial management role and an extraordinary personal testimony to minister to countless individuals across his 75-year life.

Born in Quebec, Dave was the typical Canadian boy with the hockey dream. For his 7th birthday, he received a card from Detroit Red Wings’ legend, Gordie Howe. For Christmas, Gordie sent him a jersey.

Dave would later learn his mother requested both from the Hall of Fame right winger.

On scholarship, he attended and played for American International College in Springfield, Mass, graduating in 1971. Signing to play for the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League, Forbes joined the NHL’s Boston Bruins as a free agent in 1973.

So, there’s no way he would have imagined that less than two years later he’d be standing inside the Hennepin County Court House in Minnesota – pleading not guilty to a felony charge of aggravated assault for a fight during a game between his Bruins and the hometown North Stars.

At a press conference after the arraignment, Forbes told reporters, “I was probably one of the most upset guys after it happened … People who aren’t familiar with the game and how it’s played, don’t understand. Everyone who plays hockey agrees what happens on the ice happens, on the ice. We have a mutual respect for each other.”

It was Minnesota North Star center Henry Boucha who got hit in the eye by Forbes’ stick, an awful injury that eventually ended his career a year later. He required 25 stitches and suffered from double vision.

Tried later that year, the case ended in a deadlocked jury and a mistrial after 18 hours of deliberation. Boucha then sued Forbes in civil court and won a settlement.

A year later, David Forbes became a Christian. Joining up with fellow believing players, they started a Christian Athlete Hockey Camp in Montreal.

“No matter how many players we have we will make it the best week of their lives,” Forbes stated.

Shortly after, Forbes and several others launched Hockey Ministries International (HMI), an endeavor that led to hockey chapels throughout the NHL, as well as the distribution of Bibles to players hungry for God’s Word. The ministry continues to thrive today.

As for Henry Boucha?

The Native American died in 2023, but not before crossing paths with David Forbes in 2020.

David Forbes had been wrestling with if, how, and when to reach out. He finally decided to do it.

What did he tell him?

“I’m sorry!” he said.

How did Henry Boucha respond?

“Hey, I forgave you a long time ago,” he told him.

By God’s grace and mercy, Dave Forbes redeemed a difficult season of his life, learned from the challenges, and then poured Himself into the sharing of God’s Good News in both the financial world and in professional hockey.

“David was deeply devoted to serving the Lord, said his friend and colleague, Don Liesemer. “He walked closely with Jesus. Loved his wife and family and was a guiding light to all who knew him. To God be the glory. We will miss him greatly.”


Image credit: Boston Bruins/Facebook