The Humboldt Broncos head coach, Darcy Haugan, has been confirmed among the dead following a fatal bus crash in Saskatchewan.
Fifteen people were killed after the Humboldt Broncos team bus crashed on Highway 35 in Saskatchewan on Friday, according to the RCMP. The Humboldt Broncos compete in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Darcy Haugan, the team’s head coach and trainer, was on the junior hockey team’s bus Friday on the way to a playoff game in northeastern Saskatchewan when it collided with a truck. His wife Christina George-Haugan confirmed his death to The Canadian Press and his sister Deborah Carpenter has posted photos of her bother on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Tributes poured in for Haugan online almost immediately, who was described as mentor and friend to the young players.
“Condolences. I met Darcy in his Estevan days, he was a great leader. Huge loss for the hockey community and your family,” one well-wisher said in response to her tweet. Another described Haugan as a “good coach and a great man.”
Video coverage of Humboldt Broncos bus crash
Bud Dyck, who used to play for Haugan during his time at the Peace River Navigators, posted a message to his Instagram page along with a photo of himself and Haugan early Saturday morning. The caption read, “You gave me a second chance when I didn’t deserve it, creating a lasting friendship neither of us saw coming. Your impact on the community and our lives went well beyond the rink,” wrote Dyck.
“Thank you for showing me there is so much more to hockey and life then [sic] what happens on the ice. Love ya Darc, we’re gonna miss you,” he continued. The relationship between the two is unclear.
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You gave me a second chance when I didn't deserve it, creating a lasting friendship neither of us saw coming. Your impact on the community and our lives went well beyond the rink. Thank you for showing me there is so much more to hockey and life then what happens on the ice. Love ya Darc, we're gonna miss you. #ourcoach
Global News reached out to Dyck, who said that Haugan had a close relationship with all the players he coached, and called him an “unbelievable coach and an even better person.”
Dyck first met Haugan when was 16 while he playing for the Peace River Navigators between 2009 and 2014. He explained that during his rookie year (2011-2012) on the team, he acted out by being late for practices, missing the bus for games, etc.
While Dyck acknowledges he would have been justified in kicking him off the team, he’s grateful Haugan decided to give him a second change.
“Through all that, we became quite close, became good friends, we talked a lot.” The year that Haugan decided to take a chance on Dyck, Dyck says he wound up winning goalie of the year in his league.
“He had a passion for people and he pursued his dream and passion for hockey,” Haugan’s cousin Stan Haugan said in a recent interview.
“The players loved him, they played hard for him, but he was not an angry coach or a mean coach, he was just an excellent gentle hand guiding these young men to their hockey future.”
Haugan’s career would have eventually taken him to the Western Hockey League, his cousin believed. He said he had a tremendous eye for detail and was “just an excellent coach.”
“I know that he was born to be a coach and he achieved all of that. I am proud of him, but it’s just unspeakably sad that he’s gone.”
According to a profile of Haugan posted to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League website a few months ago – when he joined the team – he served as the coach of the North Peace Navigators of the Northwest Junior Hockey for 12 seasons.
Before coaching, Haugan played minor hockey in northern Alberta and made the jump to the junior league at age 17, and spent the next two years playing for the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders.
At 19, Haugan was dealt to the Bonneyville Pontiacs, where he won the team’s most-improved player award. After that, he was on the move again for his overage season, ending up in Estevan to play with the Bruins. Later on, Haugan went back to school to obtain his power engineering diploma.
The team was on its way to play in Game 5 of a semi-final against the Nipawin Hawks when the crash took place.
Darren Opp, president of the Hawks, said a semi T-boned the players’ bus. Broncos president Kevin Garinger says the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team includes players from Edmonton, Slave Lake and Airdrie in Alberta, and from Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Garinger said the Broncos are a close-knit team from the small city of about 6,000 people 110 kilometres east of Saskatoon.
The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League is a Junior ‘A’ hockey league under Hockey Canada, which is part of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. It’s open to North American-born players between the age of 16 and 20.
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