Matt Buha had his first "hockey experience" in the late spring of 1967, a season before the St. Louis Blues arrived in St. Louis. While only 9 years old, Matt went to the old St. Louis Arena with a friend and his father to make a delivery. Growing up in Dogtown, that wasn't too far away. While there, the St. Louis Braves were practicing and he was amazed at the game the first time he saw it. He picked up a puck that had left the ice and remembers seeing the insignia "CHL" on the puck. That was his first impression and it was an ever-lasting impression.
Matt soon starting skating at the Steinberg ice rink and starting playing hockey in the Olsen-Whitworth Instructional League (HOF 2008 &2010 respectively) in the early 70's. He also went to almost every Blues home game from January of 1968 through November of 1972, his freshman year in high school when he had to miss a Blues game for his own high school game. In those years, he developed a relationship with all the Blues personnel, virtually all.
Matt hung out outside the arena arriving around 6:00 pm for an 8:00 pm game and worked the crowd to get tickets for that nights' game. This was a tradition for about 10 kids from the Dogtown neighborhood...it was a ritual. Ironically, and considering the class of 2015, Matt got tickets from Mr. Dan Kelly many, many times and Mr. Kelly recognized Matt and just called him "Matty".
Matt's biggest influences in developing as a hockey player but most importantly his aspirations for coaching were gained from watching and playing for Mark Smith (HOF 2009), also from Dogtown. Matt played with Mark for one season and played for Mark for three seasons.
Matt Buha's coaching highlight:
- Coached for 27 seasons, first team was a Bantam AA team playing out of Immerfrost Ice Rink during the 1977-78 season
- Coached in 1978-79 and 1979-80 as an assistant coach for the Affton American Junior B team. Was named Head Coach in December 1980 and was told, "this was an interim decision, we're going to get someone older by early January". Matt coached until the end of the 1991 season, 11 seasons later.
- Matt was the second St. Louis' native to earn an AHAUS (now USA Hockey) Masters Coaching Certificate in 1985. The first recipient was Keith Blase, also a 2015 HOF inductee.
- While coach of the Affton Americans (and the Affton Junior Blues in 1988) Matt won 3 league championships and earned 4 trips to the junior B nationals, twice making the semi-finals.
- Matt was twice named NAHL (North American Hockey League) coach of the year in 1988 and 1989. The St. Louis (Affton) Junior B Blues won the first ever regular season and Gold Cup playoffs in 1988, their first year in the league against teams from Michigan.
- The Mission of Junior "B" hockey in St. Louis in the 1980's was to forge relationships with Junior "A" coaches and general managers. That was Matt's passion and he developed relationships with over 15 coaches and helped promote over 25 players from St. Louis Junior "B" Hockey to Junior "A" over his coaching tenure.
- Matt coached 4 years at Affton (AA), coaching Mite, Squirt and Pee-Wee and making the Nationals the only year he coached Pee-Wee's. Additionally, the Pee-Wee team won the prestigious National Silver Stick tournament.
- Matt coached the St. Louis Amateur AAA team (87's) for two years, twice winning the league championship (Pee-Wee) and also coaching the 87's AAA to the Pee-Wee Quebec tournament and making an appearance in the championship game, losing to Switzerland.
- Matt also coached Chaminade College Prep, two years as an assistant and seven years as the head coach making 4 trips to the final four and one trip to the finals.
NHL Players Matt Coached:
- Out of Junior hockey, one player, Chris Rogles, dressed out for one game as the backup goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks.
- Squirt and Pee Wee AA, I coached Joey Vitale, ended up playing for Pittsburgh and now Phoenix.
- AAA hockey, Brandon Bollig, Chicago and Calgary
- Prep (CCP): Paul Stastny (Colorado/St. Louis) Ben Bishop (St. Louis, Ottawa, Tampa Bay) and Chris Butler (Buffalo, Calgary and St. Louis)