Sticks out: Condolences, support for Humboldt hockey players play out on social media

Eric Adelson
Flowers are shown at center ice as preparations are made at Elgar Petersen Arena for a vigil in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, on Sunday. (Canadian Press/AP)

When we hear of a tragedy like the bus accident that took the lives of 15 Canadian hockey players last Friday, the first instinct for many of us is to help in some small way.

Few of us have ever been to Humboldt, Saskatchewan, or will ever go there. But the unbearable loss in a small prairie town is something we all feel. It could be any town in Canada, or any town in America.

One way that many have helped is by giving money for the bereaved families. A hockey mom in Saskatchewan set up a GoFundMe that has already raised more than $6 million. The donations have come in constantly over the weekend: $10, $25, $100.

Then there are the more symbolic shows of support, like one shared by a Winnipeg broadcaster and Humboldt native named Brian Munz. He received a text from a friend who decided he would leave a hockey stick outside his house because “The boys might need it … wherever they are.”

The tribute caught on in Canada and quickly spread.

“Thinking of the good people of Humboldt here in Melbourne, Australia,” wrote one post. “Sticks out, y’all” added one Texas woman. On it went, from places like Omaha and Dublin.

Former NHLer Jarret Stoll and wife Erin Andrews put out a stick.

The Mounties from British Columbia put out a stick.

So did the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

One group of fourth graders in Ontario drew sticks and pasted them to the outside of their classroom door.

It’s an easy, simple gesture, but it’s powerful. The days in Humboldt will be long, but the nights will be longer. Sleep will not come easy to anyone in Saskatchewan for a while. Still, in the middle of the night, perhaps it will bring some amount of comfort to know there are porch lights on and sticks out all over the world, for Humboldt, and for the boys.

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