Jets, Blackhawks honour Humboldt Broncos in regular-season finale
Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks players wore the word ‘BRONCOS’ on the back of their game jerseys in place of their own names to honour the victims and survivors of the fatal bus accident Friday involving Saskatchewan’s Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team.
There was a moment silence as the teams stood together in a circle at centre ice before Saturday’s 4-1 victory for Winnipeg.
“It was a very sombre mood on the ice, kind of one of those things where it could have been any one of us,” Copp said.
“You kind of count your blessings. You kind of look to the guy to your left and right, they’re not usual teammates or brothers, but you feel that sense of camaraderie and community with them.”
Teams across the league held similar ceremonies and wore decals with the Broncos’ logo on their helmets.
Earlier in the day, Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice also extended his “deepest sympathies” on behalf of himself and the Jets’ organization. “Such a horrific situation, hits so very close to home for all of us,” Maurice said.
“We grieve with you.”
Connor Hellebuyck was proud to know a list of NHL records will now include his name.
Andrew Copp scored twice and Hellebuyck set an NHL record for most wins in a season by an American goaltender
The 24-year-old Commerce, Mich., goalie made 30 saves to pick up his 44th win (44-11-9), surpassing Tom Barrasso’s 1992-93 feat with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“To be in the history books is something that I’m always going to look back and be proud of,” said Hellebuyck. “The fact that this locker room has come together, playing the way we’re playing, now the city is behind us the way they are, it’s a fun time being in Winnipeg.”
Hellebuyck also tied the NHL record for most wins at home by a goaltender in a single season with 30. Wayne Stephenson of the 1975-76 Philadelphia Flyers had the same tally.
Dustin Byfuglien and Kyle Connor also scored for the Jets (52-20-10), who have won five straight and a franchise-record nine in a row at Bell MTS Place.
Winnipeg opens the NHL playoffs next week at home against the Minnesota Wild.
Jeff Glass stopped 35 shots for the Blackhawks (33-39-10), who didn’t make the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08.
Brent Seabrook scored Chicago’s lone goal.
“It sucks,” Seabrook said. “I’ve said [to the media] a million times, I think it’s the best part of the season coming up here. To not be a part of it, not playing any meaningful games for us down the stretch, it’s been tough.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp got a standing ovation in the third period after the announcer told the crowd the 36-year-old is retiring after 14 NHL seasons, 11 with Chicago.
‘Grateful for it’
“Being born in Winnipeg and then hearing the ovation from the crowd, seeing the other team tap their sticks and clap their hands, that hit hard and I’m just thankful for it, grateful for it,” Sharp said.
Winnipeg had mounted a 4-0 lead by early in the second period.
Byfuglien began the onslaught when he scored 13 seconds into a two-man advantage with a high blast from the point at 15:12 of the first period.
Connor beat Glass on a breakaway 34 seconds into the second. It was his 31st goal of the season, which leads all NHL rookies.
Copp put in his eighth and ninth of the campaign, the second a short-handed goal, to make it 4-0 at 6:35.
Seabrook stopped the shutout with a screened shot at 9:08 of the second.
The Jets, who relocated from Atlanta in 2011, also set franchise records for wins (52), points (114) and home wins (21).