A former member of the Humboldt Broncos will be continuing his hockey career – but off the ice.
The Saskatoon Blades have hired Xavier Labelle as the team’s hockey operations assistant.
Labelle, 18, was one of 13 members of the Broncos organization injured April 6 when the team’s bus crashed with a semi en route Nipawin for a playoff game.
He spent time considerable time in hospital recovering from his injuries, which included a fractured skull and concussion, roughly 20 broken bones, and nerve damage affecting his legs and spine.
Blades general manager Colin Priestner spent time with Labelle during his recovery.
“His parents were kind enough to let me come see him in the hospital just to show him our support and I told him we wanted to make him a Blade,” Priestner explained.
“At that time, we weren’t exactly certain in what capacity, but as the summer went on and he started to progress we discussed the different opportunities, where his comfort level was, and it became quite clear he wanted to remain involved in the hockey operations.”
Labelle said he jumped at the opportunity.
“I thought it would be great to remain involved in the game,” said Labelle, who had been on the Blades 50-man list and attended three training camps starting in 2014.
“I never really thought about coaching but being here around the staff and seeing what goes into this side of a team, it’s definitely piqued my interest.”
Labelle, who joined the Blades in August, will assist coaching staff with coding and reviewing game footage, and will take on more responsibilities as the season progresses.
He will also be part of the team’s pre-game tribute to the Humboldt Broncos before the Blades home opener on Sept. 22.