As the new school year begins and summer sports come to an end — from youth all the way through the final stretch of Major League Baseball — a new hockey season begins.
This is not just any hockey season though. On April 6 of 2018, a junior hockey team in Saskatchewan became the talk of every household and hockey arena when their bus crashed with a semi-trailer truck. The crash left 16 people dead, and 13 people injured.
For hockey families, coaches, players, and others involved in the day-to-day craziness of travelling to rinks, whether it be for youth, junior, or professional hockey, the crash has stuck with the hockey community these past few months. With a new season beginning, the feeling of loss within the hockey community is still felt.
Tragedy struck a community, a team, a province,and a country as a whole. The Humboldt Broncos will be remembered by youth, junior, collegiate, and professional hockey players, coaches and families forever.
As the Broncos played their first regular season game this past weekend, and as other junior, collegiate, professional and youth teams gear up for another season, everyone is reminded of just how special their time is here, and how quickly something can be taken from you.
Plenty of teams across the world travel by bus to away games or tournaments, and it sits uneasy with a lot of people to think about the tragedy of the Humboldt team. To lose so many players, coaches, and support staff — it’s scary, and it’s hard to watch the world move forward without those people.
I think that, although it’s still hard to reflect on the lives of the Humboldt Broncos who were lost on April 6, it’s something that will never be lost on anyone in Canada. Every time there is a tweet or a video on TSN of a heart warming story about a hockey player whose faced adversity, or a coach who made a lasting impact on players — a team who has meant more to a community than anyone could imagine. Humboldt will always be in peoples minds, it will always be an event that people remember where they were when they heard about it. Every year on April 6, there will likely be sticks out on peoples porches for those who were lost in the crash, whistles hung on the doors for the coaches who were lost, and every time the Broncos of 2018-19 season step on the ice, they will be representing the players and staff who were lost this past April.
Watching the Broncos go through their process to find a new head coach, rebuild a team and organization, while tough, was remarkable. To see them continue to rebuild the way they have is a sign of how strong a sports community can be, and that in the face of tragedy, there is always a sign of hope and of new beginnings.