You may have noticed some houses this week with hockey sticks near their front door and wondered why they were there. There’s a reason for it. On Friday, April 6, the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos of Canada's Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League had collided with a tractor-trailer on a rural road near the town of Nipawin. Sixteen people — players, coaches, a broadcaster, and an athletic therapist — died from their injuries.

It was a devastating blow to Humboldt, a town of about 6,000. Long road trips in winter conditions are a constant throughout the levels of hockey, including youth leagues (I had a spinout accident in the snow on our way to a hockey tournament in upstate New York) and it seems like everyone involved in hockey, all the way up to the NHL was affected. As always, people struggle to express their hurt and sadness in the wake of tragedy.

A junior hockey broadcaster posted a picture of what a friend of his in Humboldt had done, propping a hockey stick on his front porch with the porch light illuminating it, with the caption “Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boys might need it…..wherever they are.” The practice spread throughout Humboldt, and then all over Canada, and has now made it to the US, using the hashtags #PutYourStickOut and #SticksOutForHumboldt. NHL players have gotten in on the act showing solidarity throughout the hockey community and it has made to New Jersey. I counted three houses in my neighborhood with hockey sticks on the front porch (including mine). Does it help the grieving families of the players, coach, broadcaster, and statistician who perished? Maybe, maybe not. It does show everyone in the hockey community realizes how easily it could have been them.

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