SAN JOSE, Calif. - Twenty minutes from Wild assistant coach Bob Woods’ family farm in Saskatchewan is the closest sizable city, Humboldt.
That’s where Woods’ son Brendan was born. His other son, Colin, played hockey in the community. And Woods’ mom and sister live there now.
Woods was reminded of all those connections to Humboldt after hearing a bus carrying its junior team was involved in a crash Friday in Saskatchewan that killed 15 and injured 14 others, a horrific and heartbreaking loss that has rocked the hockey world.
“You know everybody in the community, especially the hockey people,” Woods said. “It’s one of those things you always worry about, and you hope never happens. When you hear it happens, it hits close to home.”
The Humboldt Broncos, who are part of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, were en route to a playoff game when the collision with a transport truck happened on a rural highway. Coach Darcy Haugan was announced as among the deceased, and Woods remembers Haugan watching Woods’ practices when he was the general manager and head coach of the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League from 2014 to 2016.
“It’s where you really get to know your teammates,” Woods said of the bus rides. “You’re playing cards. You’re watching movies. You’re visiting. It’s kind of your safe area for the most part.”
Colin Woods played for the Broncos for a season two years ago. Three of his teammates were still on the Broncos this season, and Woods knew some of the parents.
“That’s why my wife makes my boys text every time they’re leaving and every time they arrive safe because you worry about it,” Woods said. “The roads are never good this time of year, and the weather and the hours that you travel. A lot of guys can relate to it because we’ve all been there. We’ve all worried about it. When it happens, it really hits home and I think that’s why you get the response that you have in the hockey world because everybody can relate to it.”