It was a small gesture that took a custom made jersey and many kilometres and volunteers to complete.
But it was something that Daniell Gitzler wanted to do for the Humboldt Broncos.
They were just kids chasing a dream, he said of the Broncos, and an accident like that could have happened anywhere to any team. It could have even happened to his kids or step-kids.
Gitzler got his custom made, camo print, #16 Humboldt jersey ready the day before heading out to the first Tampa Bay Lightning playoff game against New Jersey on April 12.
What started as him honouring the Broncos with the jersey with the Humboldt name plate became a drive to get the jersey to as many playoff games and hockey events as possible.
“I got a really good response to wearing it to the first game and then I decided I wanted to try and make all the Lightning playoff Stanley Cup games. I started to find volunteers to wear the jersey to the next game and then road games. It just went from there.”
Gitzler found as many people as possible to take the jersey during the playoffs, including some playoff games in New Jersey and Boston, as well as the Stanley Cup final games in both Las Vegas and Washington. Through the work of volunteers, the jersey also made its way to the NHL Awards with the Humboldt Bronco players, the Memorial Cup in Regina, the Canalta Cup with Estevan against Nipawin, the Straz Strong benefit concert, and the Calder cup for the AHL playoffs with the Syracuse Crunch.
Right now, the jersey is making its rounds with the Humboldt Broncos families with the Leicht’s, the Brons’, the Gobeil’s, and the Matechuk families so far all adding their names to the growing number of signatures.
Carol Brons’ daughter, Dayna, was the athletic therapist with the team who passed away shortly after the April 6 bus crash.
Watching the jersey as it traveled across the United States and Canada, Brons was interested in how connected the hockey world is.
“We were honoured to add Dayna’s name to the Jersey. Janelle (Dayna’s older sister) also took the jersey and had Neal Demmans, Dayna’s Supervising Athletic Therapist, sign it as well,” said Carol in a Facebook message.
After Gitzler is finished sending the jersey around North America, it will be given to the Humboldt Broncos, hopefully before the start of the 2018-2019 season.