Killed in Humboldt Broncos bus crash, Darcy Haugan was the 'coach everybody wanted'

Coach Darcy Haugan helped his players realize there's so much more to hockey than what happens on the ice. He believed in hard work, respect and sticking up for each other, lessons his former players and colleagues say they will carry with them in the days to come.

Coach Haugan remembered for instilling character and integrity on and off the ice

Bud Dyck with his former coach, Darcy Haugan. Haugan was among 15 people killed Friday when a bus carrying his team, the Humboldt Broncos, collided with a transport truck north of Tisdale, Sask. (Supplied, Bud Dyck)

In giving Bud Dyck a second chance, coach Darcy Haugan helped the teen hockey player realize there's so much more to the game than what happens on the ice. 

Haugan believed in hard work and that a player's character and integrity off the ice translated to success in the game. He told his players that respect was earned.

These are the lessons from his beloved coach that came to mind when Dyck, 25, heard Haugan was killed Friday in a horrific crash between a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and a semi-trailer in Saskatchewan.

Broncos coach Haugan was the first of 14 people confirmed dead in the collision around 30 kilometres north of Tisdale, which also sent another 15 people to hospital. RCMP said 29 people were on the bus at the time of the collision.

On Saturday afternoon, RCMP confirmed a 15th person had died. 

Dyck played for the North Peace Navigators in Peace River off and on from 2009 to 2014, when the team was coached by Haugan. He's a millwright in Peace River now, but was around 16 years old when he started playing with the Navigators, and he didn't always see eye-to-eye with his coach. It got him kicked off the team.

Thankfully, he says, the coach gave him another shot.

"I started to embrace his values and his outlook on the team, the organization, the community," Dyck said. "He referred to it as 'the messy divorce,' but we became good friends through it afterwards and always kept in touch.

We all thought that one day everyone in Canada would know his name, but we didn't expect this to be the way it would happen.- Bud Dyck

"He was the coach everybody wanted. Darcy never gave up on anybody. He was always there for every one of his players, always fought for every one of his players, always had their backs. Just a guy you loved playing for. You wanted to win for him."

Haugan was often joined at the arena by his wife and two kids, Dyck said, and the team loved having them around. 

Haugan accepted a coaching position with the Humboldt Broncos in 2015. Dyck said he kept in contact with his former coach since then, and spoke to him last season. 

He says he was in complete disbelief when he heard Haugan died in the collision. Although he was a phenomenal coach, Dyck says he should also be remembered as a great person. 

"We all thought that one day everyone in Canada would know his name, but we didn't expect this to be the way it would happen," he said. 

There are 24 members of the Humboldt Broncos, with members of the team ranging in age from 16 to 21. (Humboldt Broncos/Twitter)

Mike Fosty is the general manager of the North Peace Navigators and worked as an assistant coach for the team alongside Haugan for 10 years. He enjoyed working with Haugan, he said. He was easy to work with, knew what he wanted done and was very outgoing.

They became close friends and would golf together, or just sit in Haugan's shop and talk for hours, Fosty said. 

He said it was a "coaching dream" for Haugan when he was offered the opportunity to coach Junior A hockey with the Humboldt Broncos three years ago.

They kept in touch constantly, texting each other after big games. Fosty credits Haugan for laying the groundwork for the Navigators to win a provincial championship in 2016.

The first person Fosty heard from after that win was Haugan, he said.

"He was so proud. So proud and so happy for me. If it wasn't for his work I don't think we would have ever gotten to that point of winning a provincial championship," he said.

Fosty said he immediately assumed the worst when he heard Haugan's team bus had been involved in the collision Friday night.

He knows the seating arrangements on a team bus, he said. Coaches — the team's leader, its heart and soul — are always at the front.

"It was just a privilege to know Darcy and to have Darcy as a friend," Fosty said.

"He'll be in my heart every time I go to that arena or step behind the bench to coach. He'll always be there. I know he'll be there looking down, looking after us.

"The hockey world has lost one good man. It's earth-shattering right now."

Mike Fosty, right, with Darcy Haugan. Fosty says Haugan will be in his heart every time he sets foot on the ice in Peace River. (Supplied/Mike Fosty)