The Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks wore the name ‘BRONCOS’ on their jerseys instead of their own team nameplates at MTS Centre.
“In hockey, we’ve learned that you don’t play for the name on the back of the jersey. You play for the crest on the front,” said the stadium announcer at MTS Centre, before asking the players and audience to observe a moment of silence.
“Tonight, the Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks, together with the entire National Hockey League, are playing this game for the names on the back of our jerseys, the Humboldt Broncos.”
The teams announced they will each donate $25,000 to the Broncos club.
WATCH: Maple Leafs’ Mike Babcock emotionally reacts to Humboldt Broncos crash
“This unthinkable tragedy touches not only the people of Humboldt, but also the province of Saskatchewan and the entire hockey community,” said the announcer at the Air Canada Centre.
The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers both wrap up their regular seasons Saturday night. The head coaches of both teams came up through the Saskatchewan junior hockey league and were very emotionally speaking about the fatal crash ahead of their respective games.
WATCH: The Las Vegas Golden Knights and Calgary Flames as well as the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers paid tribute to the Humboldt Broncos before their games on Saturday evening.
Glen Gulutzan, the Flames head coach, grew up in Saskatchewan.
“I said in Winnipeg that our season was painful and I would like to take that back. I’m from that area and I played in that league. I can’t imagine what moms and dads are going through and I saw a picture of the boys, they’ve got their hair dyed, young guys. I feel for the families. I feel for the moms and dads,” Gulutzan said.
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan is all too aware of the massive impact a tragedy like this can have on a community. In 1986, four Swift Current Broncos players died when the team bus slid off a highway overpass. McLellan coached in Swift Current eight years after the fatal crash.
“I was lucky enough to be a part of a community that went through that in Swift Current, lived it and felt it and it goes on for ever. I’m from Saskatoon, I know Saskatchewan people really well and I know that Humboldt area really well and they’re as strong as they come but they need our help,” McLellan said. “There’s a lot of people that have no interest and could care less about hockey that are affected by this, and they care and they have a chance to help the community heal. I know in Swift Current…that was tough.”
Oilers all-star Connor McDavid used to ride buses like the Broncos for hockey all the time growing up.
“It’s unthinkable. Everyone in hockey knows how much time we spend travelling around, especially on buses. For me, some of my fondest memories in junior came on the bus. You’re always having a good time, or whatever’s going on, it’s always nice to be with everyone and for something like that to happen, it’s unthinkable and I don’t really know what else to say. It’s a horrible accident and we’re all thinking about them.”
WATCH: Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers hold moment of silence to honour Humboldt Broncos
A moment of silence was also observed before the Toronto Blue Jays‘ game versus the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, as well as at the men’s curling world championship in Las Vegas, where Canada’s Brad Gushue is competing in the tournament’s playoffs.
— With a file from the Canadian Press