April 11, 2018 3:55 pm
Updated: April 11, 2018 7:17 pm

Former coach remembers Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim as strong leader

WATCH ABOVE: Darrin McKechnie, the former coach of Adam Herold of the Humboldt Broncos, tearfully talked about Herold saying he's trying to cope but wants people to know "what kind of kid Adam was."

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Regina Pat Canadians head coach Darrin McKechnie said he’s struggling as he reflected on memories of Adam Herold, 16, who passed away in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

The horrific collision between the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team’s bus and a semi-trailer took the lives of 16 people on April 6 near Tisdale.

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Thirteen others were injured, three critically. Three players have since been released from hospital.

Herold played defence for the Pat Canadians, a Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League team, during the 2016-17 and 2017-2018 seasons. He was a late addition to the Broncos, who were in the midst of playoffs when tragedy struck.

Herold’s former coach said the Montmartre, Sask., native was very deserving to wear the “C” as captain in Regina and was the definition of a strong leader.

“It was absolutely everything about him. He just had a presence that everybody loved. He was quiet leader. He wasn’t a yeller, screamer. He was just a guy that – you know the old saying ‘brought the work boots’ and led by example,” McKechnie said on Tuesday.

“He was just a really good teammate. It didn’t matter if you were an old guy like me, he treated you with respect, but he also treated those young teammates … with just so much respect … he just oozed leadership and character.”

WATCH: Humboldt Broncos’ Adam Herold’s former coach says player ‘had a presence’ who led by example

McKechnie said Herold would have been a huge asset to any hockey team.

“If you had a blueprint of what you wanted as a player to build your program around, he was it. He was a small, grassroots, farm boy from Montmartre. All those small town values that you look for: hard work, and just always willing to do that little bit extra and he just was such a good person to be around,” McKechnie said.

“He was such a competitor and always wanted to get better and better and make his teammates better, and that’s the key to separating yourself from being a great leader and there’s lots of great hockey players, but to be a really good hockey player and also a great leader, you have to make those around you better and Adam had that quality as well.”

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McKechnie said the Regina Pat Canadians are coping with the tragedy together.

“I’m struggling myself, but they’re young men. They’re a little bit confused of what’s going on. They’re trying their damndest to get through this like everybody else and sticking together, but they’re such a resilient bunch,” he said.

“They know what Adam meant to this organization, they know what he meant to each and every one of those guys. Such a close friend and so the big thing is just telling them to stick together and remember the good things and (try to) walk away from here taking a piece of what Adam was about … just to be that little bit better person.”

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McKechnie said he’s personally received a large amount of support from family and friends, as well as texts from complete strangers.

“I don’t even know the numbers that come up … saying ‘keep going,’ so that’s what I’m trying to do,” McKechnie said as he choked back tears.

“This (Humboldt Broncos bus crash) brings everybody back to something and there’s such a connection with everybody … one of my college teammates lost a son and it’s just all been tragic.”

“But you just try to, I’ve used this phrase about a thousand times this week, you just put one foot in front of the other of a while and left, right, left, right.”

Herold’s funeral is scheduled to take place on Friday in Montmartre.

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