Humbled with Humboldt, and Heartbreak For All

Accountability Community Empathy


Note: The cartoon above is by Bruce MacKinnon, an award-winning cartoonist with the Halifax Chronicle Herald. It shows a hockey player dressed in the Broncos green and gold slumped over on his skates with the word “Sask” across his back. He is supported by 10 other players dressed in red with the provinces’ short forms on their jerseys.

Story: The Humboldt Broncos tragedy, where 16 coaches, trainers, and players on the junior hockey team’s bus, died in a horrific collision with a semi-trailer truck on April 6, has triggered something extraordinary across an entire country. This heart crunching, soul searing story seems to have painfully touched us all in very personal and profound ways. This week, I was leading one of our sessions on company culture and nearly 40 of us were circled together, ready to kick the meeting off. One of my teammates had gone out the night before and purchased a hockey stick, and on the blade tape wrote #HumboldtStrong. (Someone in the country had started this symbolic gesture of putting hockey sticks out on the front porch as a statement of compassion and care for the team, families and community. I genuinely believe millions hockey sticks will be placed on the front doors of Canadians everywhere). I put the hockey stick in the middle, kind of like at center-ice, and asked for a moment of reflection. Not a dry eye in the house.

Key Point: They say a change in perspective can increase our IQ. Perhaps one shred of good from this mind-numbing wreckage will be a wee change in perspective for some of us. We are grief stricken. To help underscore our national sense of loss, I’ve shared the following excerpt from the editorial board of The Toronto star:

“…It may be that Canadian hearts have never ached together in quite the way they have these last few days for a little hockey town in Saskatchewan and the 15 souls (NB now 16) lost when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a playoff hockey game collided with a transport truck at a Prairie intersection.

For Humboldt, history divided forever in that moment — to time as it was before, and the time after.

And a nation grieved because it knew that the Broncos were us and, but for chance, we and ours were them.

Such horrors are inherently humbling. They show us how fragile even the strongest of bodies are. They make mockery of our plans and, in the lottery of things, our delusions of control.

They remind us, if only for a time, what’s important. And, always, it is love.

If the loss and heartbreak are beyond measuring, it is also the case that this vast country felt very, very small this past weekend…”

Personal Leadership Moves :

  1. Remember that what you experienced at work today, the job you have or you don’t, the career progression you’re on or not, is just NOT that important. Please allow yourself just to humbled by Humboldt just for a moment, even if all too fleeting of time. Wait until next week before you float back into the proverbial rat race. It’s LOVE that counts over all. Fate is often there to make a mockery of our perfectly coiffed plans.
  2. Be present, be grateful, and live the life you deserve to live NOW. Make that small gesture as a lasting tribute to the memory of the people on that bus, their loved ones, and the forever changed community. Please embrace some small goodness from this unspeakable carnage.
  3. And also consider, if you haven’t already, putting a hockey stick on your front porch or balcony to remind you and the rest of us… If for just a while.

Heartbroken in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: With one Twitter or Instagram search, it’s amazing to see the outpour of support for Humboldt from all over the world. Even here in Austin, there are a variety of examples of local Texans lending their participation to the #PutYourSticksOut movement. Keep in mind, this is a city with only one regulation sized hockey rink. It’s primarily football country, and frankly, it’s probably easier to ride a horse or bull around here than organize a hockey game on ice skates. Nevertheless, there is not one of us who can’t feel, fear and be humbled by a tragic crash with a young sports team, just trying to get to a playoff game. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis