‘Hit so very close to home for all of us’

Jets mourn devastating loss of Humboldt hockey 'family'


Advertise with us

They gathered together at centre, two fierce division rivals who put aside all their usual on-ice differences to come together for something so much more important than the game they were about to play.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/04/2018 (1883 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

They gathered together at centre, two fierce division rivals who put aside all their usual on-ice differences to come together for something so much more important than the game they were about to play.

Saturday’s powerful pre-game tribute involving the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks included a moment of silence honouring the Humboldt Broncos following a devastating bus crash that left 15 dead, numerous other injured and countless lives impacted forever.

All players wore “Broncos” in place of their usual namebars on the backs of their jerseys. And the Jets, Blackhawks and NHL all donated $25,000 each to a 50/50 draw in which all proceeds would be sent to Saskatchewan

The welcome sign in Humboldt asks for prayers after 14 people were killed Friday after a truck collided with a bus carrying their junior hockey team to a playoff game in northeastern Saskatchewan. (Liam Richards / The Canadian Press)

Earlier in the day, Jets players and coaches expressed shock and sorrow over the tragedy.

“The whole hockey community mourns today. Such a horrific situation that hit so very close to home for all of us who spent our lives at that age riding buses to hockey games and it being part of the fabric of playing in Canada. Our deepest thoughts and prayers to you in your grieving and we grieve with you,” said Maurice.

“All the best stories are told on the buses, in the locker rooms, in the private areas where it’s just them. It’s contained. It’s where the friendships are born, the anticipation builds, the quietness of a bus after a tough loss — all things that you go through when you’re playing a sport. It’s so much a part of sporting life, hockey life, especially at that age. To have it end like that, to have it be a part of all of the survivor’s lives now, it’s just an incredibly difficult thing.”

Maurice believes hockey will play a vital role in helping to heal.

“The rinks will be full. In every NHL city, every NHL player — they’ve all gone through it, they’re all a part of it, so they’re there, then, with them. People around you, I can only assume, helps you get through something that must feel impossible to get through today. In all the rinks around Canada and the (United) States, they will be remembered (Saturday night)and certainly every day going forward,” he said.

Several Jets skaters spoke Saturday morning, recalling their own years riding buses in junior hockey. Adam Lowry was visibly upset as he met with the media.

“It’s devastating news. First of all, our thoughts and prayers go to the whole Humboldt community. It’s a devastating event. Playing (junior hockey) in Swift Current, with the bus crash there 30 years ago, it still affects the community. I can’t imagine what the families and friends in that community are going through right now,” Lowry said of a 1986 bus crash in which four Swift Current Broncos died.

“Every Swift Current minor hockey team, and we did as well, we wear the clover with the four numbers on it. It’s definitely something that hits close to home. A lot of guys that have played junior have spent countless hours on the bus. To see something like this happen, it’s really tough to see.”

“It’s devastating news. First of all, our thoughts and prayers go to the whole Humboldt community. It’s a devastating event," Lowry said Saturday morning. (Ruth Bonneville / Free Press files)

Lowry was asked if he had a message for the people of Humboldt and Saskatchewan.

“We’re all thinking of you guys, and praying for you guys. This is something that’s going to be with them for a long time. But the whole hockey world is behind them,” he said. “Something like this is something we’ve all done. We’ve rode the bus, we’ve gone through those years, long hours on bus trips, you’re going to play the game you love. You never expect something like this to happen. And then you see it does happen. All these kids, their dreams to go on to play college hockey, western league hockey, playing the game they love. It’s taken away from them. It’s so, so sad.”

Defenceman Josh Morrissey played his junior hockey in Prince Albert and said he “felt sick” upon hearing the news.

“You think for all those players and their families, everyone involved, the communities. It’s just horrible. You think about all the times and hours you spent on the bus yourself, not far from that area. It’s devastating,” he said. “At this time, it’s so difficult. Everyone’s grieving, everyone has to grieve in their own way. The hockey community is there for those people, those kids, everyone. It’s a tight-knit community, and there’s people that will be there to help and do their best to help the process going forward. We still don’t know the details and everything like that, but there’s people that will be there for those people. The hockey world cares.”

Morrissey and several teammates spoke about how some of their best memories of hockey are the times spent on the bus.

“It’s one of those things, playing in (Prince Albert), being in Saskatchewan, we had a lot of long bus rides, bus rides through storms, through the night. Just looking back, I’m so thankful we were always able to be safe. Our bus driver really did an amazing job for us, keeping us safe. We were fortunate that way. It’s just devastating. You think about going on to a playoff game and everything like that, it’s just horrible,” he said.

“It puts things into perspective, it makes you realize how lucky you are, how you have to embrace every day and really enjoy every day because you just never know when something like that can happen. It is pretty hard to see something like that happen, and try to think about anything else but how tragic that was.”

Forward Mark Scheifele played junior hockey in Ontario.

JOE BRYKSA / FREE PRESS FILES Josh Morrissey is one of the official hosts for the evening.

“It’s really sad. I think all of us in the room have travelled on a (team) bus before. When you hear that happen, it’s definitely something you never want to hear. Our thoughts and prayers are with those guys and all the families,” Scheifele said. “The amount of bus trips every team takes on a yearly basis, it’s crazy. The amount of hours guys log on the bus, and for something like this to happen. The hockey community is so tight-knit. People come together when bad things happen like that. Hopefully, the whole hockey community and the ones affected come out of it stronger.”

Defenceman Tyler Myers, who played junior hockey in B.C., said this kind of disaster puts everything into perspective.

“Thoughts and prayers go out to the Humboldt family. It’s very tragic and a very sad day for sure,” Myers said this morning. “All you can do is wish everyone the best, and give as many thoughts and prayers as you can to all the families.”

Twitter: @mikemcintyrewpg

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.


Updated on Saturday, April 7, 2018 12:41 PM CDT: Typo fixed.

Updated on Saturday, April 7, 2018 7:13 PM CDT: Updates for details of pre-game tribute

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us

Winnipeg Jets