The sports world began sending tributes and condolences to Humboldt as fast as word of the tragic crash spread.
A day after the Humboldt Broncos’ team bus collided with a semi en route to a playoff game, the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks ditched the usual jersey and instead had “Broncos” on the back of the sweater, where a players’ name would usually be.
Closer to home, the Saskatchewan Rush hosted a crucial game at SaskTel Centre that would later clinch the team home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The team held a moment of silence before the game, and fans followed it up with a heartfelt “Let’s-go-Broncos!” chant during gameplay.
Still, the team felt it needed to do more.
“The tragedy happened Friday evening, which basically gave us 24 hours to put together a plan to contribute in some type of way,” said Brandon Urban, media relations manager for the Saskatchewan Rush.
“We pulled all of our resources that we could for our game last Saturday, however, we knew there was more we could do.”
The Rush will be hosting the Georgia Swarm Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at SaskTel Centre and the evening will have a different look and feel than most fans are used to.
Both teams’ jerseys will have a Broncos crest on the front, while the nameplates for the Rush will read “Humboldt” and the Swarm’s nameplates will read “Broncos.”
In an added tribute, the boards at Co-op Field will display the names of all 29 people on board the bus on April 6 instead of the advertising that would usually be there.
“We wanted to raise awareness for the actual victims of the tragedy and everyone who was present on the bus because there was 29 individuals on that bus and each one of them deserves to be celebrated and recognized,” Urban said.
Discussions didn’t stop there. The 50/50 pot will also be part of the cause, as the Saskatchewan Lacrosse Association — the usual benefactor of funds raised — has decided to give all that money to the Humboldt Broncos.
The last few home games have had a 50/50 top $100,000, but Urban thinks that Rush nation will have no problem eclipsing that number on Saturday.
Game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off on the NLL Ebay page as another way fans can get involved. One hundred per cent of funds donated to the Humboldt Broncos. Bidding ends April 21 at 4 p.m. Saskatchewan time.
With the power of community and charity on display this past week, two NLL teams that have claimed the last three championships are proud to put aside a rivalry and join forces for something far more powerful than a game of lacrosse.
“A lot of those guys grew up playing minor lacrosse, travelling on buses to tournaments across Ontario and B.C.,” Urban said. “I think it hits close to home, not only for our guys but also for a lot of the Georgia guys.”