Grey skies, banners snapping in the wind, and the booming voice of London Knights play by play announcer Mike Stubbs.
This was the somber scene painted against the backdrop of London’s culture hub.
The crowd trickled in slowly as the event organizers started setting up. The weight this tragedy has placed on the mind of the nation was worn on the faces of attendees like the green and gold jerseys worn in support of the Humboldt Broncos.
This tragedy could have happened to any team.
Mike Stubbs described how often junior hockey teams are on the road and the potentially dangerous conditions that are regularly braved to get to the next arena. Even the seats players take on the bus are the same no matter where you are in Canada.
Knights players joined the crowd to stand shoulder to shoulder with fans, holding a banner, which would later be covered in messages of support and empathy for the victims of the tragedy.
The banner would be accompanied by a 5 thousand dollar donation to help ease the burden of the crash. Photographers gathered on the balcony above to capture the moment and to show the Broncos that London was behind them.
Although the rally was held to express a moment of national grief, Mike Stubbs and the players tried to express the valuable positive contributions that junior hockey teams make to their communities. Evan Bouchard, described the closeness of the hockey community as a family unit.
Bouchard said his team was motivated to make the gesture because of the similarities between their teams.
Mike Stubbs said that the Humboldt Broncos were not dissimilar to the Knights in terms of the way the franchise acted and presented itself. Both teams aspired to emulate a professional league team.
The type of impact that they have on their community is usually a centerpiece of life in their home area. This is one of the reasons why the tragedy hits so close to home for the Knights.
Knights players sign a banner that will be sent in support of the Humboldt broncos.
The Knights plan to keep Humboldt on their minds as they head into off-season. The next time the Knights get on a bus to go to a game, the seats they take will have a whole new meaning.