Humboldt Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan was awarded the inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero award Wednesday night.
Haugan died in the tragic bus crash that claimed the lives of most of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey team and staff in April. Ten of the 13 survivors attended the Awards in Vegas.
The crash rocked the international hockey community and prompted an outpouring of support from around the world.
Ten of the survivors of the crash accepted were on stage to accept the award — and received a standing ovation from NHL players and other audience members.
Kaleb Dahlgren spoke for the team and thanked the NHL and Haugan for their support.
“Darcy’s purpose as a coach was to impact lives and develop strong characters,” Haugan’s wife Christina said as she accepted the award.
Haugan, from Alberta, led the team for three years before he died at age 42.
“Darcy left behind, in all of those he touched, his spirit and passion for the game, his love for his beautiful family, and his example of dedication to his community,” Haugan’s community profile read.
Surviving Humboldt Bronco Tyler Smith said the remaining team members will continue to live by one of Haugan’s slogans for the team: “It’s a good day to be a Bronco.”
“It was a very important quote,” Smith said. “A lot of guys will take that with us for the rest of our lives.”
Along with honouring the coach, the Stanley Cup will make it’s way to Humboldt, Sask. on Aug. 24 with Saskatchewan native and Washington Capital Chandler Stephenson.
The new award is named after New Brunswicker Willie O’Ree, who was the first black player in the NHL.
The two other finalists are Debbie Bland, a co-founder of the Etobicoke Dolphins Girls Hockey League in Ontario, and Washington’s Neal Henderson, who founded the Fort Dupont Hockey Club.
The rest of the team was honoured at the awards as well.
*with files from the Canadian Press and Thomas Piller
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