NHL Awards 2018: Humboldt Broncos survivors reunite on stage for first time since fatal bus accident

Ten survivors from the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team attended the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, marking the first time the group has reunited since a tragic bus crash that left 16 dead earlier this year.

Those players, plus three additional survivors who were not able to make the trip, were honored on stage at the awards show in what was an emotional affair. They were invited out onto the stage one-by-one before addressing the crowd, which contained some of the NHL's best and brightest stars.

The Broncos players were also the subject of a great video played during the show.

In the two months since the fatal crash, the survivors had yet to all meet together. A number of the players --  aged 16 to 21 -- returned to their hometowns spread across Canada, while some are still working to recover from injuries sustained in the accident. 

"It means so much to me because we haven't all been able to meet in person at the same time," Broncos player Kaleb Dahlgren told ESPN. "Sure, you can talk over text, FaceTime, or call, but it's not the same as talking face to face and giving your brother a hug. I'm very thankful to be able to be with my brothers and honor those 29 people who were in the accident. The support we have received from the world has been amazing and it sure does help."

The Broncos were on their way to a playoff game on April 6 when their team bus was involved in a deadly collision with a truck. Sixteen people -- including 10 Broncos players and the team's head coach -- were killed in the crash, and more than a dozen others were injured. 

Fallen Humboldt coach Darcy Haugan was recognized with the inaugural Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award, which goes to "an individual who - through the game of hockey - has positively impacted his or her community, culture or society." That award was accepted on stage Wednesday by Haugan's widow, Christina.

The Humboldt bush crash was an absolutely devastating story that rocked the hockey world, but it also led to an inspiring response that showcased the heart and generosity of the community. A GoFundMe established for the 29 families affected raised more than $15 million in less than two weeks. A number of NHL clubs and players made significant contributions, both with their wallets and their resources. Some survivors have been visited by players and other prominent figures in the hockey community, while others have been hosted at NHL arenas and received massive ovations.

Nothing will bring back the lives lost in the tragedy, and nothing will erase the pain that has been caused in its wake. But over the past few months it has been great to see how the hockey community has come together to rally around a team and a community in dire need of anything to help lift its spirits. Wednesday's NHL Awards in Vegas should bring another emotional chapter in the recovery process.

The NHL also honored survivors and first responders from the Las Vegas shooting last October, as well as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hockey team from Parkland, Florida.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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