Today, there will be hockey in Humboldt.
Five months and six days after the horrific crash that killed 16 and injured 13 more, the Nipawin Hawks and Humboldt Broncos will meet in Humboldt, at the Elgar Peterson Arena,to open the regular season in front of a sold-out crowd and national television audience.
“To be back at the rink for hockey is exciting,” said team president Jamie Brockman.
Brockman was named president during the offseason, replacing Kevin Garinger, who stepped aside after last season.
“The first training camp I got goosebumps, because finally, hockey is back in Humboldt.”
It’s been an emotional few months for the Broncos and Brockman, tasked with moving the team forward while dealing with the emotional fallout from April. Today is an important milestone for the whole organization.
“At one point, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Brockman.
“But I think today, going through what we’ve gone through to get to this point, there’s going to be a wide array of emotions. There’s going to be some joy, there’s going to be some sadness at different points of the night. Today we’ve got a fairly big step circled on the calendar as a move-forward point.
“I think a lot of people have marked this day on the calendar that it will be the day … we’re going to find out what our new normal is.”
Brockman doesn’t really know what that new normal will be. But he does know there is a team to run, and hockey to play.
“It’s huge. Through all of this, there’s still a hockey team to run,” he said.
“We have 25 players, coaching staff and office staff focused on this year … focused on hockey and the season at hand. (Hockey) at times it helps us heal, and helps us progress, and keeps us moving forward.”
The game will, in some sense, not be like any other game. It will be nationally televised with millions watching the Broncos return to the ice (Airing live at 6:30 p.m. on CTV Saskatchewan and TSN). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking in Saskatoon, said all of Canada is cheering for the Broncos.
While that’s added pressure on an already emotional night, Brockman said the team will do fine so long as they focus on what they can control.
“(It’s) hard to say (how the team will perform tonight),” he said.
“That’s why you play the game.”
Post game, the team will have a ceremony to honour everyone impacted by the crash. A committee has been working with the families to put the tribute together.
“I don’t know if a sense of relief is right, but I’m sure there’s going to be some of that,” Brockman said.
He hopes people leave knowing one thing – that the Broncos are back.
“Hockey is back in Humboldt. We are strong. We are going to survive, and we are going to move forward.