In the wake of the Humboldt Broncos tragedy, The Hockey News and the entire hockey world has the survivors and their families in our thoughts.
I heard the news last night when a text came in from a family member: Did you hear about the Humboldt Broncos?
I was in the middle of something that couldn’t be interrupted so I didn’t respond and didn’t investigate for another 20 minutes.
But I knew.
How? How many? How come? The weather? Something else? Everything from back then was getting replayed in slow motion. Then you think maybe it’s not so bad this time. Then you take a look on social media and the early reports are enough to make you need to look for a chair.
Devastating. The circumstance. The Broncos name. The aftershocks to come.
Back in 1986, I was on the Swift Current Broncos bus that went off the highway on the way to Regina and resulted in the death of four players — Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Brent Ruff, Chris Mantyka. I was covering the WHL team as a junior hockey reporter and I was getting to know those players like brothers. That part seemed to come naturally over hundreds of miles on the prairies.
Like the members of the Humboldt Broncos and dozens of other junior teams, these young adults leave home as teens to chase a dream playing hockey. It’s like that in all sports, really. Their parents, siblings and loved ones don’t go along physically, but they’re there in every sense of the word. You see them after games waiting for their guy to emerge from the dressing room. And you see their headlights in the arena parking lot in the wee hours of the morning as the bus pulls in from a long road trip. They’re always there.
My heart goes out to them today. It really, really does. They’re the survivors and the families of the survivors and they’re left now to pick up the shattered pieces. It won’t be easy for them and the only thing I can offer is please know the hockey community cares. The hockey world cares. All corners of the world care. They don’t know your grief but they feel it. And maybe that provides a little comfort. Just a little.
I could barely sleep last night thinking about the Broncos. I was up constantly checking social media for updates. The whole time I’m thinking about the magnitude of the number and if that changes things. Back in 1986, it was four. Now, 15. Words cannot…
It should go without saying that professional counselling should be a mandatory salve to those directly affected by this tragedy in Humboldt. We didn’t have that back in 1986, but we should have. That’s why I use the word mandatory now.
Within hours of the Humboldt accident, I connected with some of the players and loved ones from the Swift Current crash. Like me, they relived the dark moments and revisited the scene in their mind. It’s an association we don’t wish on anyone, but it’s one we’re lifetime members of.
Keep the Humboldt Broncos in your thoughts. This will be a difficult time.
(Editor’s note: This message was updated with the news of a 15th victim.)