OTTAWA (Reuters) – Hockey sticks were being left on the doorsteps across Canada on Monday in a poignant tribute to 15 youth players and personnel killed in a bus crash.
Hundreds of photos of hockey sticks – propped beside front doors and on porches – have appeared on social media in response to the hashtag #PutYourStickOut, in honor of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team devastated by Friday’s collision.
The symbolic tribute was sparked by a Twitter post by Canadian sports broadcaster Brian Munz after he shared a photo of a hockey stick left outside from a friend who wrote: “Leaving it out on the porch tonight. The boys might need it … wherever they are.”
Canadian Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser posted a photo of her stick on the front porch next to the doorbell, noting she chose “not just any stick” but her first stick, a short white wooden Titan with frayed tape on both ends.
“Hope the boys don’t use it, nothing but muffins coming out of that thing! #humboldtstrong,” Wickenheiser tweeted in a wry reference to weak shots.
Similar photos of hockey sticks, sometimes accompanied by candles, were posted from across Canada and the United States.
“Just in case they want to play hockey in the sun for a bit, here’s one left out in Phoenix. #HumboldtStrong,” tweeted Arizona user Catherine Silverman, adding a photo of a black Bauer stick with yellow tape.
Fifteen people were killed and another 14 injured in the accident on Friday, which occurred as team’s bus collided with a semi-trailer truck on the way to a playoff game in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan. A vigil on Sunday was attended by thousands, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Monday, the Saskatchewan coroner’s office said two of the players involved in the crash had been misidentified. One believed to have been killed was actually alive, while another identified as wounded had been killed in the accident.
Identifying the boys was more difficult because they had all dyed their hair blonde for the playoffs and had a similar athletic build, officials said.
(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)