April 8, 2018 2:22 pm
Updated: April 8, 2018 8:45 pm

Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers coaches bring gifts to Humboldt Broncos survivors in hospital

WATCH: Edmonton Oilers coach Todd McLellan and Calgary Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said Sunday it was "an honour" to visit the survivors of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash and they hope it was "therapeutic" for the players.

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As the city of Humboldt continues to come to grips with the devastating bus crash that claimed 15 lives on Friday, support has been pouring in from the hockey community all over Canada, including two NHL coaches who once called the province of Saskatchewan home.

Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan and Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan were seen loading bags of gifts for the crash survivors into a van bound for the Saskatoon hospital where the Humbolt Broncos survivors were recovering on Sunday.

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“It’s an honour for us to be here. It’s an honour for us to just sit with the kids and the families and sometimes just talk hockey,” Gulutzan said. “And some of the boys had questions [for] Connor (McDavid) and TJ Brodie and Johnny and just to kind of get them in a place where they can sit and chat and get away for a moment. I think it’s therapeutic for us but hopefully it was for them too.”
Gulutzan, who came up in Saskatchewan’s SJHL leagues, said making the trip to Saskatoon was about the goodness of people coming together.
“It’s unfortunate that things like this happen to bring out the best of us but a lot of hugs this morning from dads and moms … Sheldon Kennedy said it the best that you just don’t know what to say, you just jump in with two feet and with these types of things, if you just lead with your heart it’s a lot easier,” Gulutzan said.
McLellan grew up in Saskatoon. His dad worked in Humboldt and his brother played for the Broncos. He said when they arrived at the hospital, it was full of people close to those who were in the crash.
“There’s a lot of family here. A lot of grandmas and grampas and girlfriends and aunts and uncles – the hallways are full. And they needed some reassurance as well. So we spent a lot of time with them. And then there’s the families that aren’t here. You know, because they’re not here doesn’t mean we’re not thinking of them as well. They’re important and they’re grieving in their own way and we want them to know we’re thinking of them as well,” McLellan said.
“When you see the emotion that’s present, the sadness but also the joy – there’s some joy involved in it right now for some families – it becomes real, it hits home. You begin to think about your family. My sons both travelled immensely across two different countries on a bus,” McLellan said. “My memories go back to friends that I loss in the Swift Current bus crash and the healing that has happened and continues to happen in Swift Current. But I also see that a community can come together. I’ve witnessed it and it remains strong for a long period. These players will never be forgotten.”

READ MORE: ‘Heartbroken and completely devastated’: 15 dead in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Fifteen people were killed and 14 others seriously injured when a semi-truck and the bus carrying the team collided near Tisdale at around 5 p.m. on Friday. RCMP said the cause of the crash is still unknown as of Saturday.

The victims include Broncos captain Logan Schatz along with nine other players, coaches Darcy Haugun and Mark Cross, the team’s statistician and radio play-by-play announcer and the driver of the bus.

WATCH BELOW: Global News coverage of the deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Condolences and messages of support poured in since the crash on Friday night, including from NHL players and coaches.

Gulutzan, McLellan and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock all grew up in Saskatchewan and spoke on Saturday about their heartbreak for the communities.

“I said in Winnipeg that our season was painful and I would like to take that back,” Gulutzan said. “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 and… just young guys.

“I feel for the families, I feel for the moms and dads.”

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos player Logan Boulet taken off life support, organs donated

WATCH: Members of the Calgary Flames spoke Saturday about the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos.

The tragedy has also hit hard with McLellan, who said he both played and coached with junior teams in the Humboldt area.

“I can’t imagine what those families are feeling and what they’re going through right now. It just won’t be today,” he said. “It lasts a while. They need our support. They’re going to need it as soon as now. It’s going to have to last for a while.”

READ MORE: ER doctor calls Humboldt Broncos crash triage ‘most tragic night of my career’

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy, along with two other former teammates who were involved in a 1986 bus crash that killed four Swift Current Broncos players, also paid a visit to the players on Sunday in the hope of lifting spirits and bringing wisdom on moving forward.

“We’re here to help,” he said. “We’re just here to do whatever we can and our plan is to try to visit some players and to just try to bring some hope to this whole thing.”

“We know the impact. The impact of this type of trauma is real and we know more now today than we did 30 years ago about PTSD and mental health that comes with these types of events.”

WATCH BELOW: 1986 Swift Current Broncos bus crash survivors Peter Soberlak, Sheldon Kennedy and Bob Wilkie arrive at a Saskatoon hospital where survivors of Friday’s deadly Humboldt Broncos bus crash were recovering. 

With files from Rebecca Joseph and Kevin Neilsen

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