KAMLOOPS — The Humboldt team bus tragedy has impacted on the entire hockey world.
Even the most grizzled and toughest in the game have been moved to tears.
"It just goes to show you that you need to embrace every day, and each and every day that you're ---- with your family."
says a tearful Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. "You better enjoy it (tearful pause) let's talk about hockey."
Fifteen lives lost and in the closely knit family in the hockey world, there are very few who didn't know one of the 15, or didn't know someone who was close to them.
It's hit home for several members of the Kamloops Blazers.
Tylor Ludwar and Carson Denomie were teammates in minor hockey with Adam Herold, at 16 the youngest player on the Humboldt Broncos, and one of the players who died in the crash.
Herold played in the Kamloops International Bantam Hockey Tournament in 2016, when he was a first team all-star and named KIBIHT's top defenceman.
Connor Ingram, who now plays with the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League, tweeted that he had a lot of buddies on that bus ---- and played with Logan Schatz, the Humboldt Broncos team captain, who also died in Friday's crash.
The play-by-player announcer for the Syracuse Crunch is committing one dollar for every save made by Ingram to GoFundMe for the families and survivors ------ which Ingram says he will match.
There isn't a player or coach at any level of the game who hasn't ridden the bus.
"I can't imagine what everyone is going through back in Saskatchewan," says Toronto Maple Leafs player Tyler Bozak.
"It's so much a part of sporting life, of hockey life, especially at that age," says Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice in referring to the tragedy while bussing to the game. "To have it end like that, to have it be part of all the survivors lives now is just an incredibly difficult thing."
Mike Needham has ridden the team bus hundreds of times and thousands of miles during his time as a player with the Kamloops Blazers, as a coach in minor hockey, and for the last four years as an assistant coach with the Blazers.
Needham says what makes the Humboldt disaster even more tragic is that the team bus has always been considered a sort of sanctuary ----- a safe place for players and coaches as they travel from game to game.
"These types of things are obviously tragic." says Needham. "You never want it to happen --- but it galvanizes. The hockey community is a strong community. It's going to galvanize us all. It's going to make those times more precious.
It puts everything into perspective --- winning and losing means nothing compared to the loss of lives. Really it puts things into perspective, and those times for me are certainly going to become more valuable."
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