The most important thing in the world to most people are those in their social circles be it their friends or family. Last Friday, many people’s social circles were uprooted when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team collided with a semi truck, killing 16 team members and leaving the remaining in hospital. The shockwaves from the Humboldt tragedy were felt worldwide for the sheer tragedy alone. But the hockey community in particular was affected, and they have rallied around the world, including in London, Ontario.
The London Nationals are in the Sutherland Cup semi-finals against the Listowel Cyclones. They played game 1 of their series on Wednesday, both teams’ first games since the Humboldt crash. Prior to puck drop, everyone on the ice, including the officials, joined at centre in a movement of solidarity for Humboldt. The captains from both teams placed their sticks and gloves on the centre dot, and the Western Fair Sports Centre held a moment of silence to honour those who lost their lives.
With the mood in the air, it was hard to believe that they were honouring a team over 3000 kilometres away, but that shows the community that hockey is. Nationals’ captain Brendan Trottier was given a sobering realization in the light of the crash: “I’ve probably took every bus ride for granted, we have the same bus driver every day and he always gets us home safe and I think it just makes you more appreciative.”
The interconnectedness of the hockey community is evident when you look at who watches the games. Clark Singer, head coach of the Western Mustangs men’s hockey team, was at the game on Wednesday. As a member of the hockey community in London, he often frequents Nationals games for professional and personal reasons. “It goes beyond hockey, it’s about the people and how close they become because of the sport.”
In the Sutherland Cup semi-finals alone, there is one player who has played for both teams, and the coaching staffs of each team have played together or against each other at one point or another. These connections are lifelong because of the sport of hockey, showing why the Humboldt tragedy hits so close to home for anyone involved in the sport.
— Vilma (@VilmaViitanen) April 9, 2018
But much like the type of people who play, the hockey community is nothing but resilient. There has been online movements springing up amongst the hockey world, including #sticksoutforhumboldt. The online hashtag urges people to leave hockey sticks outside the doors of their homes in honour of those who were lost in the Humboldt tragedy. Many NHL teams and players have participated in the movement, and has also gained attention from the international hockey community.
Saskatchewan may be over 3000 kilometres away, but distance is but a number when it comes to supporting the peers within the hockey community. The London Nationals showed the solidarity within the hockey community with their pre-game ceremony, and will surely play the remainder of the Sutherland Cup with heavy hearts, and the mindset of being #humboldtstrong.