Jared Bednar was born in the tiny town of Yorkton, Saskatchewan, but spent most of his youth living in the bigger nearby city of Humboldt, population 6,000 or so. His boyhood dream, of playing for the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, was realized.
Which is why Friday's tragedy in which, at last report, 14 players from the Humboldt Broncos were killed and others injured in a bus crash hit him on a deep, emotional level for the Avalanche coach.
"That's my hometown. I grew up in Humboldt. My dad was stationed there twice," Bednar told BSN Denver, showing visible emotion. "The bulk of my childhood was in that city. I grew up as a young guy dreaming to play for the Broncos. I had that opportunity as a teenager, then moved up to the Western League. I know what that team means to that town."
Bednar said he has a friend whose son played for the Broncos, a goaltender who survived after surgery Friday.
"It's a tight-knit community, about 6,000 people. We send our thoughts and prayers to them, for sure," Bednar said.
Bednar is not the only person from Avs management who knows the pain of a Saskatchewan bus tragedy. On Dec. 30, 1986, Avs general manager Joe Sakic was a player for the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. The team's bus hit a patch of black ice, sending it off the highway and into a ditch. Four players on the Broncos were killed. Sakic escaped injury.