HUMBOLDT, Sask. — Darcy Haugan was remembered Saturday not just as the head coach of the Humboldt Broncos, but as a family man who led by example on and off the ice.
Haugan, who was 42, was one of the 16 people who died on board a bus that was carrying the junior hockey team to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask., on April 6.
The bus and a semi-truck collided at a rural intersection north of Tisdale.
Thirteen others were injured.
“Today marks just over a week since a terrible tragedy struck this community. In the wake of this crash 16 people have left the earth before their time, 16 families are grieving with the memory and countless lives have been changed as a result of this event,” said Haugan’s brother-in-law Adam George at the service at Elgar Petersen Arena where the Broncos play their games.
“Since his death there have been so many stories shared about his life. There’s no point in me standing before you and telling more stories about Darcy. This building is already full with them.”
Haugan was a devout Christian who would pray before work in his office and before bed with his sons Carson, 12, and Jackson, 9.
His friend, Pastor Sean Brandow, was the chaplain for the Broncos. He said Haugan was far from perfect, but he was a good man.
“Darcy always sought to do what was right. He didn’t always do it, but he sought to do it. He wanted to do it,” Brandow said with a chuckle.
“He wanted to communicate better. If you’ve ever tried to talk to Darcy, sometimes it would be like trying to talk to a squirrel in a roomful of nuts,” he said.
“He’s over here and then you’re watching a video about Seinfeld and you don’t know where he’s going to go next.”
Amanda White said she was the “tag along little sister” when her older sister, Christina, started dating Haugan. She eventually moved with them to Haugan’s hometown of Peace River, Alta., and the two of them just clicked.
“I wasn’t sure there was a man on this earth that was good enough for my big sister. I was so proud to walk into the arena and having coach Darcy Haugan being my brother-in-law,” she said.
“Darcy was an amazing part of our family and we will forever hold him close to our hearts. Forever in our hearts. I’ll always love you Darc.”
Seven players wearing Humboldt Broncos jerseys, including one in a wheelchair, were sitting in the crowd as were former players from the North Peace Navigators where Haugan had been head coach.
George said Haugan was a good family man, and a coach and mentor off of the ice.
“As a coach we know that what happens on the ice is not nearly as important as when players took their skates off outside. He worked hard to lead the young men in his care to become people who live their lives with integrity.”
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press