CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Like thousands upon thousands of hockey players who have spent time busing between hockey cities in the juniors, college and minor professional leagues, Sidney Crosby has thought back on his experiences while trying to absorb the news of the horrific and fatal bus accident Friday involving a junior team in Saskatchewan.
“It’s a place where everybody has so many great memories,” the Penguins star center told Pittsburgh Hockey Now in an exclusive interview Monday after practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex practice facility.
“For any kid playing hockey and traveling to games, that’s where you get to know your closest friends, and you have great times on the bus. So it’s hard to imagine a scenario like that and what everyone must be going through.”
The Humboldt Broncos junior team was traveling to a playoff game when there was a violent collision with a large semi truck. Fifteen people have died, and many others were injured.
News of the tragedy was just starting to circulate as the Penguins played in their final regular-season game Friday. They were the only NHL team that did not play Saturday, and the team did not practice or hold interviews with reporters Sunday, so Crosby and his teammates had not had a chance to react publicly until Monday.
During Crosby’s regular post-practice interview session with several reporters, Pittsburgh Hockey Now asked him if he wanted to offer a thought to those affected. Here is video of his response:
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During the exclusive interview that followed, Crosby expressed confidence that the families, friends and others affected will continue to receive strong support.
“I know that there’s a lot of people thinking about them,” he said. “I know the hockey community is definitely going to rally around them. I’m sure everyone right across Canada is going to rally around them.
“It’s such a terrible thing to happen. I hope that the people around them can help them gain a little strength and comfort, but there’s just not a lot of words to describe it.”
Pittsburgh Hockey Now asked a couple other Penguins for their thoughts.
Defenseman Kris Letang lost his best friend, Luc Bourdon, in a motorcycle accident while Letang and the Penguins were in the midst of the 2008 playoffs. This is a tragedy on an even larger scale, but it shares similarities.
“It’s crazy, everything that went through my mind,” he said. “All those bus trips that we took … life can be short.
“All our thoughts are with all the families that lost their relatives. It’s just hard.”
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray, like the others, was reminded of his time riding buses with teammates when he was younger.
“It hits close to home for a lot of us guys, especially (those) from Canada,” Murray said. “I played in the (Ontario Hockey League), and we were on the bus every couple of days. It’s heartbreaking. You see it all over the news, all over social media. You just feel for the families and the community.”
Murray takes some comfort in the outpouring of support.
“Hockey’s a really tight-knit community, so everybody’s really rallying around those families and that community,” he said. “It’s really inspiring to see the support that comes out in the hockey community at a time like that.”