It was the morning of the biggest game of the year for the Colorado Avalanche, but it was also a day where the hockey world was reminded that there is more to the sport than the games themselves.
Hockey plays an important part in many people's lives, but there is a lot more to it than trying to put a vulcanized piece of rubber into a net at blazing speeds on ice. The sport develops bonds that can last a lifetime. From peewees to adult rec leagues to the National Hockey League, the game creates a unique camaraderie for players and fans alike.
So on April 7 as the Avalanche prepared to face the St. Louis Blues in the final contest of the regular season and with a playoff spot on the line, the hockey community was mourning the loss of some of their own from the previous night.
Nearly a thousand miles north of Colorado on the Canadian plains of Saskatchewan, a city was grieving. The Humboldt Broncos were on their way to Nipawin for Game 5 of their playoff series in the Saskatchewan Jr. Hockey League, but the team never made it as an accident with their team bus and a truck killed 16 people on the club and critically injured 13 others. Among those that died included players, support staff and coach Darcy Haugan.
Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar spent a large amount of his childhood in Humboldt while following his father, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer, around the province. He considers the city his hometown and the Broncos were his team.