I used to hate riding the team bus.
First of all, I’m a big guy, and the seats were cramped, meaning my knees were constantly rubbing against that awful, scratchy fabric on the back of the seats if I tried to spare my back and sit normally.
There was also a very noticeable smell that got more and more repugnant as the vehicle barreled towards our destination. That could have been me, I’m not totally certain.
Finally, most of our trips went deep into the night, meaning sleep was expected. But expected does not mean it happened, and I spent many nights thinking way too much about the last game, tomorrow’s practice, or anything else hockey related.
Hockey was my life.
One of the only positive things to come out of those long, grueling bus trips was the relationships that formed between teammates.
You’d leave on the first roadie of the year as teammates, thrown together in a two-week training camp. You’d return back to the rink as brothers, knowing way too much about each other and ready to do anything for that guy sitting across from you.
As a junior hockey player living away from your family for the first time, this bond is elevated even further thanks to the loneliness and confusion you’re going through away from the rink. Your teammates become every part of you and they’re the only people you want to see.
Yes, hockey players have a bond like no other. A bond that cannot be equaled in any other sport on the planet.
Not only are you bonded to all the teammates you ever played with for life, but the hockey community as a whole is more tight-knit than you’d think.
When you leave the game, you can tell immediately when you meet another hockey guy. No matter where they played, you have an immediate bond.
You can share stories, knowing they’ll understand just how dumb some guys could be. You can have a beer and you can always count on them to be a true hockey beauty.
One thing hockey players don’t often do very well is share our feelings. So I’m going to do it for all of those who struggle. I feel like this is a time where it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to show emotion.
Guys, we don’t always have to act tough.
The devastating incident that took place in Saskatchewan last night has hit me, and everyone I know connected to the hockey community incredibly hard.
This is one of the worst incidents I’ve ever heard of and something that those of us in the hockey world will truly need to mourn for some time.
My junior career was actually ended by the Humboldt Broncos organization, but this just shows that the bond of brothers is so much more than the colour of uniform a player wears.
Because today, we are all Humboldt Broncos.
I know that my words won’t do anything for the families who lost their sons and I know they won’t make this any easier for anyone truly close to this situation, but if my words can help just one of my hockey brethren make sense of this tragedy and mourn this loss, I’ve done my job.
There is a GoFundMe page set up to help those directly affected by this tragedy and it has already raised over $50,000 overnight. If you felt anything from the words I spoke above, it would mean a lot if you could help out my hockey brethren.
Much love to every hockey brother out there.
Thoughts and prayers go out to the Humboldt Broncos, their players and their families. I cannot imagine what they’re dealing with right now.
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