BY BILL PHILLIPS
It was a royal send-off.
A couple hundred fans gathered at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena Wednesday to see the Prince George Spruce Kings get on the bus and head off to Wenatchee, Washington where they will open the Fred Page Cup championship series against the Wild Friday.
It’s the first time the team has been back on the bus since last Friday’s bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos, which left 15 people dead, most of them Broncos’ players. The send-off was co-organized by Mystee McKay, one of the Spruce Kings billet parents, so the connection to the bus tragedy that has gripped the nation is strong.
“Just because some of them don’t know any of the players who have passed away, they are still brothers,” McKay said. “They’re still brothers. It’s affected our family and it’s affected the Spruce Kings organization. I just felt that as a mom, and a hockey mom, that sending these boys off with some love and support would just be a really nice thing to do. Loading a bus after everything that’s happened might be a little bit emotional for them.”
She sent the word around social media and the community responded with a large turnout of support … many wearing jerseys, carrying signs, and chanting “go Spruce Kings go.”
“There’s four players who knew players on the Broncos that passed,” said McKay. “It has hit them pretty hard. It has been an emotional time for them because they have lost some brothers … We, as a community, are family for them because they’re miles away from home. We are their family here.”
While the pressure will certainly be on the Spruce Kings players Friday night when they open the series, the real pressure is on Bobby Huard this afternoon. He will be behind the wheel of the Spruce Kings bus as it heads to Wenatchee. He didn’t say much about the accident in Saskatchewan, but it has obviously hit him as well.
“It’s one of the those things, it was unexpected,” he said. “It’s been a good season for the guys and hopefully their morale is still up.”
Game 1 in the best-of-seven series goes Friday night at 7:05 p.m.