The outpouring of love and support for the loved ones of those who died in the horrific crash that claimed many members of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team earlier this month has been heartwarming to say the least.
About $10.5 million has been donated to the cause through a GoFundMe campaign and the entire country has shown its support through undertakings such as Jersey Day this past week, and the leaving of hockey sticks outside doors in a nod to Humboldt.
One of the reasons this tragedy struck so close to the heart of so many Canadians is that with hockey being ‘Canada’s game,’ a large number of people can relate very strongly to what happened.
From coast to coast to coast across this great nation of ours, multitudes of both male and female hockey players have their own memories of riding the team bus to an opponent’s hometown.
One of the images that struck closest to home for me showed a DVD of the movie Slap Shot on the ground among the wreckage at the scene of the accident.
Just through the latter stages of my own minor hockey career, especially my years of junior hockey, I could not venture a guess at how many times I watched that movie on a team bus.
In fact, the team bus was always a comfortable environment; an extension of the team and our home community that was a natural part of our lives for about seven months of every year.
The memories of most hockey players in regards to the team bus are of good times and bonding with their fellow players, and of whooping it up on the way home from a big win and quietly consoling one another after defeat.
To have the team bus the focal point of the tragedy that killed 16 people including players coaches, the team statistician, the team radio announcer, the athletic therapist and the bus driver strikes so very deep inside the heart and psyche of all those who share memories of riding bus to play hockey.
Words fail to convey the pain felt inside and the feeling of utter helplessness in regards to the lives lost.
It is, indeed, a painful, painful time for so many Canadians.
But life must go on and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League absolutely made the right decision in announcing the league’s playoffs would continue.
And it took supreme courage, in the face of so much pain, for Humboldt to announce it would rebuild and the Broncos would continue.
It is my deep belief that there’s not a personality among those who lost their lives that fateful day who would not want the Broncos to continue, could their voices be heard.
The outpouring of support we’ve seen from every corner of our nation makes one proud to be Canadian in this time of tragedy.
That rallying cry of “Humboldt strong” is also a cry of support for the community to heal and for the Broncos to carry on.
And, although it seems a lifetime away at this point, it will be a huge day in the healing process for the community of Humboldt when they drop the ceremonial puck to begin the Broncos new season come October of this year.
In the here and now, we continue to grieve with the community, send our heartfelt sympathies to the loved ones hit so very hard by this tragedy, and quietly feel pride in the efforts of so many Canadians to help Humboldt recover.
And while it may seem so far away right now, that puck will be dropped come October and the cry of Humboldt strong will become one of pride and admiration for a community that refused to stay down.
May whatever deity you worship send its blessings to the community of Humboldt and heal the countless broken hearts in that community and across this great nation of ours.