The hockey community suffered a tragedy, a tragedy that hit every single hockey player at their heart. The Humboldt Broncos represented all of us, a group of kids who were living out their hockey dream in the heart of the country. They were successful and were simply travelling to a playoff game in Saskatchewan when this tragedy struck. We have seen an outpouring of support from across the world, and when it comes down to it, the bus is simply a part of the team. Rather than focus on the tragedy itself, we here at Roster Point are going to look at why the bus is at the heart of every travelling team from Bantam to the pros.
It is a home away from home
Growing up in British Columbia, my bus rides stretched from Fort St. John in the north to Portland, Oregon to the south. We spent more time on that bus than our own homes during the weekends, and it was our safe space. The bus represented an opportunity to hang with your friends, get some school work done on a Friday night, or an uncomfortable bed during a late night trip home. Our bus became our home, and no matter what rink we were headed to, we knew that no matter the outcome, our bus was going to be there to get us back to our real home.
It spurred friendships
Long bus rides are a tradition in hockey, and it is no accident that teammates that are stuck beside you during those long rides are often your best friend. A bus buddy is simply your teammate who you get to split a seat with. At some point they will need your advice, they will need your shoulder to cry on and of course, they will eventually fall asleep on you. It is the way of the bus, but the truth is that no matter what happens you were there for your bus buddy.
A movie theatre or casino that rolls
Determining who is the most popular on the bus often comes down to who happens to have a DVD that won’t skip while on the road. During those long Saturday afternoons to the next game, the bus became a movie theatre and a casino. The front was often critiquing the latest Hollywood film from the 90’s that our coach found at his house, while the back was playing a spirited game of poker or rummy. It is the way of the bus, and part of the reason that so many were shaken when they saw a broken DVD of Slap Shot at the Humboldt crash site, we all watched it dozens of times on our buses growing up.
The substitute dad
The bus driver has a special connection with the team, mainly as the silent but often hilarious keeper of the bus. The rookies loath him for making them clean the bus, but as they mature they see his role change. The bus driver is like the substitute dad, especially on smaller teams. No matter how you played, he would give your hair a tussle and tell ya to keep your stick on the ice. They run long hours on the road, but every team quickly learns to love their driver as soon as the season kicks off.
The bus is as part of the hockey world as the stick. From Bantam to the pros, everyone has to spend some time on the bus. The bus is a home, a place to make lifelong friends, an entertainment hotspot, and is run by a dad who loves all of his hockey kids. The team bus is a home and more, and that is why the tragedy that took place in rural Saskatchewan has hit home for so many. We are here for you Humboldt.