On a day normally set aside for the best hockey players in the world, much of the attention went to teenagers from western Canada wearing green and yellow junior hockey jerseys.
The nine surviving members of the Humboldt Broncos gathered Tuesday for the first time since the April 6 bus accident that took 15 lives and united the global hockey community. Reporters and cameramen gathered around Kaleb Dahlgren, Tyler Smith and Ryan Straschnitzki, on podiums reserved for Connor McDavid and the like for NHL awards media day.
“It’s the best thing ever,” Smith said. “It’s pretty important to try and get together as much as we can just to heal. I think we get together and exchange stories, kind of just being a team as we can again is important. I think a lot of guys, we can cry together, we can laugh together, we can do everything together and kind of heal in our own way. I think it’s a blessing to be able to be here together.”
The players will gather again when the Stanley Cup is brought to Humboldt on Aug. 24, with Washington Capitals forward and Saskatoon, Canada product Chandler Stephenson.
“t’s going to be really crazy,” Dahlgren said. “I think Humboldt needs that, honestly. They need that to come to them.”
Straschnitzki and some of his teammates are rehabilitating injuries from the accident but still will try to spend time with the Cup. One of the highlights of the trip to Las Vegas was taking pictures with players such as Kings center Anze Kopitar and Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban. It was a highlight for the NHL players, too,
“It’s great to see them here,” McDavid said. “Just think about how far they’ve come from only a short time ago. To see them here, it’s really uplifting for all of us.”