Nfld. & Labrador

Hockey parents and fans line up to have Humboldt Broncos logo printed on jerseys

Newfoundlanders are waiting hours in line, and donating money, to show support for the Saskatchewan hockey team.

Supporters waiting hours to show solidarity with Saskatchewan hockey team after tragedy

Supporters of the Humboldt Broncos line up outside of Universal Corporate Wear in St. John's. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Thousands of kilometres away from the scene of a crash that claimed 16 lives in Saskatchewan, supporters in St. John's are waiting hours in line to have shirts and hockey jerseys printed with the Humboldt Broncos' logo.

On Monday, the owners of St. John's graphic apparel store Universal Corporate Wear said they would apply the junior hockey team's logo onto T-shirts and hockey jerseys free of charge on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

By Wednesday afternoon, around 4,000 logos had been printed in support of the Broncos, and the shop had received an influx of donations for the family of Parker Tobin at its St. John's and Conception Bay South locations.

"We've had people throwing in 50s, 100s, it's been crazy," said employee Wanda Peach.

"We figured it would be busy, we knew it would be, because there is a lot of hockey support everywhere."

On Thursday, many people across Canada will be celebrating "Jersey Day" and wearing jerseys in support of the Humboldt Broncos.

'They'll never forget those guys'

It's another show of solidarity for a team whose plight has hit close to home for a hockey-loving nation, and parent Dave White said he jumped at the opportunity to show his support.

His own teammate, Dean Little, passed away during a hockey trip 25 years ago.

For David White, of Bonavista, the tragedy in Humboldt hits close to home. (Gary Locke/CBC)

"At age 13, we lost a good friend of ours in Bonavista at a hockey tournament from a tragic accident so we know first-hand how it affects a community," said White, who grew up in the town and now lives in St. John's.

"I can't imagine what they're going through up there with 15 lives lost, it's gotta be heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking for us here, it brings back a lot of memories of the friend we lost."

He and his friends and former teammates still come together to talk about the accident, and about Dean, White said.

"All those guys that survived this accident, they'll never forget those guys. Ever. Twenty, 30, 40 years from now they'll still remember it like it was yesterday."

Dean Little's teammates, whose names are listed here, honour him each year at a memorial hockey tournament in Bonavista. (Facebook)

White is married now, with three sons, two of whom are enrolled in minor hockey.

He wants them to know what it's like to be part of a team and stand with the Broncos.

"We want to make sure that they they're gonna wear this, and in time maybe we'll explain to them a little more detail of what happened."

Many other parents were in the same boat as White on Wednesday, trying to explain what happened in Humboldt to their young children.

Kim Hurley, who has two sons in minor hockey, says she knew she had to do something after hearing about the accident. (Gary Locke/CBC)

Putting the team's logo on their jerseys is one way to talk about it, said Edward Whelan, whose seven-year-old son is an avid hockey player.

"He's really not at the point where he really understands exactly what's happened, [but] we've talked to him about the tragedy," Whelan said.  

"Just try to cherish the memories that you have, and hopefully be safe, and love your friends as much as possible."

All for Humboldt

In line, Kim Hurley said she didn't mind waiting hours to show her support.

"It hit close to home. My automatic reaction was to cry, it's such a community sport, everyone gets involved, all the moms and dads," said Hurley.

"So it really broke my heart to hear about it."

Despite the long wait, that community spirit was on display among those in line.

Hurley met another woman who couldn't stay in line long because her son had just been released from the Janeway Hospital, and she quickly stepped in to help.

"I told her to go on her way, she gave me her coat and mitts, and here I am. About a two-hour wait to go," she said.

In the coming days, many young hockey players across N.L. will travel long and short distances to get to their games, lace up their skates, and leave everything out there on the ice. 

And many of them will do it in jerseys freshly adorned with the Broncos logo.

With files from Julie Skinner