The hockey community came together Saturday as the true horror of the bus accident involving the Humboldt Broncos came to light.
Canadian police said Saturday morning that 15 people were killed and 14 more were injured when a semi-trailer truck T-boned the bus carrying the junior hockey team to a playoff game in Western Canada.
The team’s 20-year-old captain Logan Schatz and head coach Darcy Haugan were among the 15 killed, the AP reported Saturday afternoon. The crash happened on Highway 35 in Saskatchewan around 5 p.m. on Friday.
“Our thoughts are with the players, families, coaches, team management and all those throughout the community who have been affected by the tragedy involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “The NHL mourns the passing of those who perished and offers strength and comfort to those injured while traveling to play and be part of a game they all love.”
Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, who survived a bus crash in 1986 that left four of his Swift Current teammates dead, took to social media to ask for prayers for the Humboldt hockey community.
“Sending all my thoughts and prayers to those impacted with the @HumboltBroncos bus crash,” Kennedy wrote Friday night.
He also warned people to not share rumors.
“Pls don’t share any unconfirmed information,” Kennedy urged. “These kids families and friends are all searching for the correct info. #PrayersForHumboldt”
Joe Sakic, a hockey Hall of Famer who was also a member of the ’86 Swift Current squad, spoke to The Athletic about Friday’s tragic crash.
“When I heard the news, for myself and probably everyone that went through it in Swift Current, it brings you back,” the Colorado Avalanche GM said. “You remember how hard it was, the pain. And it’s one of those things. It’s one of the hardest things you have to deal with. In time, they’ll be able to move forward, but right now — when I heard the news, it crushes you to think that other people are going through this right now. It’s tough, but they’re going to get through it.”
An emotional Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock, who grew up in Saskatchewan, addressed the media ahead of Toronto’s game against Montreal.
“A horrific, horrific accident,” Babcock said, per TSN reporter Kristen Shilton. “Tough day. I know that road pretty good, it doesn’t seem like a big spot, it’s not in the mountains or anything. But accidents do happen.
“You send your kid away and (I sent) my kids to junior hockey or college hockey or college soccer and I always used to think about those vans when the coaches were driving in college soccer, I always thought those were a nightmare.
“This is supposed to be as safe as it gets, and it just goes to show you, you’ve got to embrace each and every day and each and every day you’re with your family, you better enjoy it.”
The Flyers, who host the Rangers Saturday afternoon, also released a statement Saturday morning.
Community mourns the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team after fatal bus crash
“The Philadelphia Flyers are devastated to learn of the tragedy involving members of the Humboldt Broncos Junior ice hockey team,” Flyers president Paul Holmgren said. “The news is truly heartbreaking, not only for the entire hockey world, but for an entire community of parents, family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with these players, and all those who have been affected.”
Those involved with hockey — especially at the junior level — brought up the bus rides the players and staff embark on on a daily basis.
“Every day hockey teams, players, scouts and parents are on the road heading to arenas everywhere, so this impacts everyone and these young men and the Humboldt Broncos will be forever remembered,” Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting, told NHL.com.
Tanner Lane, a former collegiate hockey player, called the team bus “a second home for players.”
“A safe place to bond and create countless memories while traveling to play the game you love,” Lane, who played in the USHL before a four-year career at Nebraska-Omaha, shared on Twitter. “Thoughts and prayers to the families and players involved in this horrific tragedy.”
“It’s devastating really because it doesn’t matter how closely connected or how far you are away from it, if you’re in our industry, it hits home to some degree,” NHL scout David Gregory said, via NHL.com. “We’ve all been on those buses, on those roads and you just feel for these families because it’s just a horrible situation.”
Devils defenseman Damon Severson expressed similar sentiments on social media.
“Thoughts going out to everyone affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash tonight,” Severson wrote on Twitter. “Spent a lot of time on a bus playing junior hockey in western Canada. This one hits real close to home. #WeAreAllBroncos #PrayersForHumboldt”
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the players and families involved in the tragedy. As of late Saturday morning more than $245,000 had been raised.
With Justin Tasch