Athletes, teams honour victims of Humboldt Broncos deadly bus crash
Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, April 8, 2018 4:21PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 8, 2018 6:24PM EDT
Some wrote "Broncos" on their caps or shoes, others sported the word across their backs.
Athletes and teams across North America have been paying tribute to the Humboldt Broncos after Friday's deadly collision between a truck and a bus that was carrying the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team to a playoff game in the province.
The Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks honoured the Humboldt team by wearing jerseys with the word BRONCOS across their name plates during their regular-season finale at Bell MTS Place Saturday night.
Before the game, a moment of silence was observed, with players from both teams standing in a circle around centre ice.
"It was very powerful," Jets head coach Paul Maurice told reporters after the game. "Again that connection that all hockey players have together, they go through that idea of travelling as a team, being part of a team.
"It was really emotional."
The Jets and Blackhawks donated $25,000 to the Broncos while the proceeds from Winnipeg's 50/50 draw for the night were also donated.
The NHL pitched in $25,000 while other teams -- the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames -- made donations via a GoFundMe page that had raised more than $3 million by Sunday morning.
The Leafs and Montreal Canadiens wore Humboldt Broncos decals on their helmets while playing each other in Toronto Saturday night, as did the Oilers and Canucks, who also wore Broncos-coloured green and yellow lapel ribbons in Edmonton.
Don Cherry spoke briefly about the crash on his Coach's Corner segment before introducing a montage of photos of every member of the Broncos team.
"There's no words to describe what's happened here," Cherry said of the crash that killed 15 people. RCMP have said 14 others on the bus were injured.
Bill Chow, the president of the SJHL, called the tributes and support "absolutely overwhelming."
"Hopefully that support will continue and hopefully it will allow for some type of healing as we move forward over the next few days, months and years," Chow told The Canadian Press on Sunday.
The tributes extended beyond the hockey world.
The Toronto Raptors held a moment of silence prior to Sunday's game against the visiting Orlando Magic.
"It's unbelievable," coach Dwane Casey said of the tragedy. "It's your worst nightmare as a parent to send your kids off to play, on a school bus, and something like that happens. I can just imagine that city losing 15 young people, coaches, parents, whoever was on that bus. You just can't grasp how that touches you and touches the sports world in general. We are all human. For the hockey work it has to be even tougher, and for a city like Humboldt, that has to be devastating."
"To the fans and family, our prayers go out to them."
Joey Votto, the Toronto-born Cincinnati Reds superstar, took his position at first base Saturday afternoon with "Humboldt Broncos" written in white on his black cleats.
And Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman took the mound against the Texas Rangers in Arlington with the team's name written in white on the bottom left side of his cap. "SK" was written on the other side.
The Blue Jays and Rangers observed a moment of silence on the field before the game. Afterwards, Stroman said he would be auctioning his cap and donating the proceeds to the Broncos.
"I had a heavy heart all day, to be honest with you," Stroman told reporters in Arlington. "Just seeing a young team having a bunch of lives taken from them, it's extremely unfortunate and tragic.
"Everyone in Saskatchewan, I just want to say we're here with you guys, you're in our thoughts, you're in our prayers, and we'll do anything we can to support you through a tough time."
A moment of silence was also observed in Las Vegas on Saturday morning, where Brad Gushue and his rink from St. John's, N.L., is vying for a second straight men's world curling championship.
Saskatchewan Roughriders wide receiver Duron Carter tweeted a pledge to the Broncos on Saturday, saying "Every touchdown I get this season will be donated to the Humboldt Broncos families! Hope I help this healing process!"
-- With files from Lori Ewing in Toronto