On Wednesday, the NHL hosted their annual awards ceremony in Las Vegas. The inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero award was presented at the event to Humboldt Broncos late head coach, Darcy Haugan.
Haugan was killed in the tragic bus accident earlier this year, which also cost the lives of 15 other members of the Broncos organization.
The surviving players from the accident were in attendance to accept the award on behalf of Haugan, along with his widow, Christina.
“He was a real inspirational guy,” Huboldt goaltender Jacob Wasserman said. Wasserman is paralyzed from the waist down, and has been in physical therapy to increase his mobility. He has a personal goal of playing in the Olympics one day.
“Darcy, he taught life lessons that I am thankful to have to this day,” said forward Kaleb Dahlgren. Dahlgren recently attended Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final, where he showed his support for the Washington Capitals. He has been offered a place from York University to play in the OUA, which he can take “whenever he is ready.”
“He wanted us to be good people,” added center, Brayden Camrud. Camrud is hoping to return to play for the Broncos next year, and was shown practicing on the ice in the tribute video.
Hockey Night in Canada’s Scott Oake and Elliotte Friedman introduced 10 of the surviving 13 players to the stage, and each received a standing ovation from the audience. Three of the Humboldt Broncos, Layne Matechuk, Morgan Gobeil, and Shumlanski, are still recovering, and so were unable to attend to ceremony.
Photo: NBC Sports
Christina accepted the award for Haugan from Willie O’Ree himself. She said, “I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of Darcy. But not because of what happened to him on April 6th, 2018, but because of what he did every day before April 6th.”
Christina then read the covenant that was painted on the wall outside the dressing room, which exemplified exactly why Haugan was the first recipient of the O’Ree award, which is presented to an individual who positively impacts his or her community, culture or society through hockey.
It reads as follows:
To treat my teammates and coworkers with respect.
To be thankful for the opportunity to wear the Bronco jersey.
To play each game and practice with passion and determination.
To conduct yourselves with honesty and integrity.
To treat all volunteers, billets, sponsors, and fans with respect and gratitude.
To understand that we are building foundations for future generations with our words and actions.
To always have hope and believe everything is possible.
To always give more than you take.
To strive for greatness in all areas of life.
Happy to see Darcy Haugen recognized with the NHL's O'Ree Community Hero Award. Haugen's creed on @HumboldtBroncos dressing room wall could hang in every team room, school and business. #Haugenscovenant #Humboldtbroncos pic.twitter.com/APLJ9cBlKf
— Ken Juba (@kjuba) June 21, 2018
Following her acceptance speech, Christina shared hugs with the Broncos on the stage.
The night prior to the awards, the Broncos met with several NHL players attending. P.K. Subban and Anze Kopitar filmed a video with them all.
A post shared by P.K. Subban (@subbanator) on
Connor McDavid also met with the players and, according to Sportsnet, spoke about his experience at the IIHF World Hockey Championship and his time in Europe.
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Haughan was fond of using the phrase, “It’s a good day to be a Bronco,” something that a few of the surviving Broncos intend to memorialize with a tattoo. As they reunited for the first time since the accident, to come together and support each other, it certainly felt that way.
Headline photo: NBC Sports
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