By Darren Lum
Published April 17 2018
All across the nation there has been an outpouring of support for the community of Humboldt and the Humboldt Broncos hockey team following the tragic collision between a semi-trailer and the junior A team’s bus at an intersection northeast of Saskatoon on April 6. Sixteen people died.
The team was on their way to Nipawin Sask. to play in a semi-final game against the Nipawin Hawks.
Since the collision Canadians have united in solidarity. They shared in the grief and have shown amazing generosity with financial contributions through a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $11 million the third highest ever in history. They wore hockey baseball and basketball jerseys for Jersey Day this past Thursday and expressed compassion through social media with messages and images – one of them a hockey stick or sticks left by the door.
Kenny Trenton a radio broadcaster and reporter for the Moose FM in Haliburton not only knew Humboldt Broncos coach Darcy Haugan but was the announcer for the Broncos for three seasons.
Trenton first met the coach in October 2005 when they were both in Peace River Alta. close to four hours north of Edmonton. Trenton was the play-by-play announcer for the Peace River Navigators which at the time was coached by Haugan.
“The first time I met him: a nice guy but very very quiet. Very quiet. A very down-to-earth kind of guy. The more and more you got to know him the more you would see his personality. He was just that kind of guy for me” he said.
It was Trenton’s first broadcast job and Haugan became like a brother supportive and helpful with advice for the rookie announcer who had moved from the suburbs of Montreal.
Trenton remembers how little he knew about hockey when it came to calling a game. Haugan was not only supportive but he also shared his knowledge of the game and “explained a lot of the X’s and O’s to me.”
Trenton never forgot Haugan for that. There were times when Haugan would drive hours to visit with Trenton always refusing any offers for dinner or anything from his friend.
Trenton never saw Haugan have an outburst or even swear. He never needed to. He was respected and what he said carried weight with his players.
He delivered his messages to this players in a calm and collected way.
The Moose FM broadcaster remembers how he challenged his players to take responsibility for a 5-4 loss back in 2005 against long-time rival Fort St. John of British Columbia.
Several players starting with the captain took turns expressing how they could have done something differently for a win.
“He did not say a word. He just sat there and listened. After that he said ‘You boys figured it out. You guys are men. You know what you have to do and let’s do it’” he said.
As a result the team went on to win 13 of 14 games and eventually finish first in the league.
“That’s how I’ll remember him the most. I’ve been around coaches who will yell and scream and call you every name in the book but not this guy. Also the thing is his faith was very important to him too. I never heard a swear word come out of his mouth ever and in the hockey world hearing a hockey coach that doesn’t swear I think is more rare than the white rhinoceros” he said.
“He was very calm very cool collected very much loved his community a very family guy really cared about his players and basically he was that type of guy who would sit up when he brought somebody into his program (at least back in Peace River). ‘What do you want to get out of this’ as opposed to ‘this is how I see you fitting in this lineup.’ What do you want to get out of this?”
Part of Trenton’s grieving process included sharing how he felt about his friend on Facebook.
In response Haliburton’s Amanda Virtanen started a GoFundMe campaign early last week to help him to travel to the funeral service this past Saturday.
In two days the campaign surpassed the $1200 goal raising $1520 as of Monday.
Trenton was amazed at the generosity.
“It was a lot more than I expected – a thousand per cent more than I expected – because I just figured that it was an impossible situation for me to be able to get up there. I had just been mentioning on Facebook posting my personal memories of Darcy and everything I knew about him and the time I spent with him. Just mentioned it was tough I couldn’t be there and all of a sudden out of nowhere I find that somebody at the county level had started a GoFundMe page on my behalf” he said.
By that time he found out about the page a few hundred dollars had already been raised.
“It’s overwhelming. Of all the places I lived no one has stepped up like that before so that’s meaningful” he said.
As of Thursday April 12 Trenton has lived in the county for 11 months making the generosity even more amazing he said.
Trenton worked for the Humboldt Broncos as one of the broadcasters from 2006 to 2009 when the team made back-to-back trips to the Royal Bank Cup the national junior A championships.
“It’s like one of those places you always think it’s that sanctuary. It’s that safe zone. Sometimes it’s like a team’s dressing room or team’s locker room and the bus is kind of the same thing. I can tell you all the many many many times I stepped on a bus as a play-by-play announcer in my career to think something like this could happen you always take it for granted and now to see something like this happen is obviously a tragedy” he said.
With Haugan’s strong faith Trenton wonders if there wasn’t a greater power at work when it came to the amazing results of the GoFundMe campaign.
“As crazy as this may sound I almost believe this campaign had divine intervention in a way this GoFundMe thing. Darcy one thing about him he was a man of faith very strong Christian beliefs. He goes to church every Sunday with the family. Not a preacher. He had strong beliefs in that so I almost believe” he said. “I almost believe that Darcy may have said something upstairs and that’s possibly why I’m allowed to do this. At the same time I don’t only see me representing myself and my memories but because of the people that helped me get [to go] I almost feel like I’m also going there and sharing my grief on behalf of the people of Haliburton as well. I almost get that feeling.”