If you played hockey growing up, you’ve travelled on a bus with your teammates. These are arguably some of the best times of a young player’s life. Sitting on long, boring bus trips is where life-long friendships are created and teammates who used to be strangers become family members. I won’t speak for everybody, but drawing on people’s faces when they fell asleep on the bus might have been more fun than actually playing in games.
On Friday, the lives of fifteen individuals were tragically ended as the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus collided with a semi truck on the highway. Families were shattered, a town was devastated, and the hockey community all across the world felt the shockwaves of this tragedy.
There simply aren’t words to explain what happened that day. As much as you try, you can’t wrap your head around the reality that a group of people going to play hockey passed away on their way to do what they love. It’s gut-wrenching and incredibly sobering to remember how precious and fragile life is.
In the wake of this tragedy, though, we got to witness the best of our community. Hockey might seem like just a game, but it’s so much more than that. Playing hockey is more than skating, scoring goals, and throwing hits. Watching hockey is more than cheering in the crowd. It’s about being a part of a community.
The way the hockey community has rallied together to help Humboldt and the individuals who were affected by this tragedy is hard-warming to say the least. Let’s take a moment to share some of the beautiful stories that have come from this unspeakable tragedy.
The GoFundMe to support the victims and families has, in only a couple of days, reached $5 million in donations. That’s absolutely incredible. Thank you to everyone who donated, and, if you haven’t and have the means the means to do so, please donate.
BREAKING: A GoFundMe set up to help the victims of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash and their families has surpassed the $5-million mark. As well as donating, Canadians have found another way to express solidarity in the wake of the tragedy: https://t.co/WD5I0ojbTh— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) April 9, 2018
The NHL put together a beautiful tribute to the Broncos.
The hockey world mourns with Humboldt. Players, fans, and the rest of the hockey community took time to keep all those affected by the tragedy in our thoughts. #PrayForHumboldt pic.twitter.com/XiTw2CfmlC— NHL (@NHL) April 8, 2018
The WHL also had a beautiful tribute.
The Swift Current Broncos, who were devastated by a bus accident of their own in 1986, remind Humboldt that they aren’t alone.
We share more than a name, we share your sorrow. From one Bronco to another, we are here for you.— SC Broncos (@SCBroncos) April 7, 2018
The love spreads through the hockey community.https://twitter.com/kenzirxse/status/983047601586130944
People all around the world are leaving their sticks outside as a tribute to those who passed away in the tragedy.
Got this text from a friend who I went to high school with in Humboldt.— Brian Munz (@BrianMunzTSN) April 9, 2018
Inviting you to do the same as we remember and send our thoughts to the #HumboldtBroncos.#PrayersForHumboldt #Broncostrong #Humboldtstrong #theSJHL #TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/HHwZyUZ5KG
People from both Canada and the United States are sharing photos of hockey sticks left on porches as a tribute to players with the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and five others, including two coaches, who were killed in a bus crash in Canada https://t.co/eQV2iLcdO6 pic.twitter.com/c1JDGWv1FR— CNN (@CNN) April 9, 2018
This photo rocked me to the core. The standard movie to watch while on the bus is always Slap Shot. The Hanson Brothers offered their prayers to the victims.
It has been brought to our attention that the broken cd of #SlapShot was found at the wreck of the #HumboltStrong team bus.— The Hanson Brothers (@Hanson_Brothers) April 9, 2018
We wish "putting on the foil or "buying a soda after the game" could help but instead we will reflect and pray God gives peace and comfort during this time. pic.twitter.com/i9InIQ4HFb
The stadium in Humboldt was overflowing with members from the community who wanted to do anything they could to help.
The Humboldt Broncos' rink is full. Volunteers directing mourners to overflow locations like the curling rink. pic.twitter.com/hV9KpUfD5e— Carrie Tait (@CarrieTait) April 8, 2018
Just recently, Logan Boulet became an organ donor. He was taken off of life support and his organs will give the gift of life to six other people in need. He’s a true hero.
The Broncos were more than a hockey team to Humboldt. They were a staple in the community, participating in many charities and initiatives in the town.
Ryan Straschnitzki, a survivor from the crash, will likely never walk again. But that won’t stop him from his new dream of representing Canada at the Olympics in sledge hockey.
Adam Herold, just a few days shy of his 17th birthday, was one of the players who was killed in the crash. He’ll forever be remembered for his character off the ice.
Stephen Wack was a young filmmaker who was killed in the crash. This video he put together for his 2017 year in review is beautiful and shows a tremendous amount of perspective for somebody who was so young.
It you're not afraid of shedding more tears for Humboldt, Broncos' defenceman Stephen Wack was also a talented filmmaker. He made this video https://t.co/yDEL9heBOt of his 2017. We talk about loss of young life, but I find it hard to see his young life so vividly.— Matthew Gourlie (@MattGourlie) April 8, 2018
Darcy Haugan, the team’s head coach and general manager, will always be remembered for his leadership. He cared about creating great young men rather than great young players.
Young play-by-play man Tyler Bieber was travelling with the team. He’s remembered by his friend as a leader in the media community.
Brody Hinz loved hockey and the Broncos and did whatever he could to help the team. He tracked statistics to help the team and will be remembered for his passion and huge heart.
Sean Bradow, the team’s pastor, gave an incredibly moving and passionate speech on Sunday night.
Can we heal? Yes.
Will the scar be there? Yes.
The transcript of Humboldt Broncos team pastor Sean Brandow's extraordinary speech at last night's vigil. https://t.co/Foi5kADDR9— Paul Wells (@InklessPW) April 9, 2018
Keep these fifteen individuals in your thoughts. Remember to enjoy the gift of life because, at any time, it can be taken from you. Remember also that we are a community. Through tragedy shines the light and brings out the best in humanity. These stories from the wake of the Humboldt tragedy serves as a reminder of just how close and caring this community is, and while this whole situation is absolutely gut-wrenching, the response warms the heart.
Finally, I want to thank everyone in the community for their warmth and generosity throughout this tragedy. Thank you to everyone who helped raise $5 million to the GoFundMe, thank you to everyone who purchased one of our charity t-shirts, and thank you to everyone who offered love in any capacity to those who were affected by the tragedy. Whether it was putting your stick outside, wearing a jersey in tribute, or showing compassion online, every form of warmth and generosity has its place and powers our community to be what it is.
Thank you, hockey community. Now, we mourn. Together, we will heal.