The former North Peace Navigators coach who died in the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crash has been named a finalist for a new NHL honour. Darcy Haugan is one of three people up for the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.
O’Ree became the first black player to compete in the National Hockey League in 1958. The honour is meant to go the nominee who best uses hockey as a platform for people to build character and develop important life skills.
“I believe we are three individuals within ourselves,” says O’Ree. “We’re a person who we think we are, we’re a person who other people think we are and we’re a person who we really are. And to find that real person within yourself and staying focused on what you want to do, that’s a big factor.”
Grande Prairie resident Dale Scotton was coached by Haugan for two seasons and coached with him for several more when he was in Peace River. He says making his players better men came before making them better athletes.
“If you give it all in your sport, you’re going to give it all in your life. It goes hand in hand, and that’s what Darcy wanted us to do; he wanted us to give it all in life and give it all on the ice.”
42 year old Haugan was one of 16 people who died when a bus carrying the Broncos Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team crash with a semi truck on their way to Nipawin, Saskatchewan, on April 6, 2018. He was the GM and head coach of the Navigators from 2003 to 2015, when he moved to be the head coach of the Broncos.
Scotton says Haugan was a deeply religious man, who used his faith to fuel his passion for his sport and community. Scotton credits him with helping him become the man he is today when he encouraged him to move from his hometown of Battleford, SK to Peace River for hockey.
“He was a true gentleman. He treated his family and his wife with the utmost respect, and he was the epitome of what you want to raise your children to be… I’m going to teach my kids to be like him.”
The Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award will be voted on by fans online through June 1st. The other two finalists are Debbie Bland of Etobicoke, Ontario, who is the co-founder/builder of the Etobicoke Dolphins Girls Hockey League, and Neal Henderson of Washington, the founder of the Fort Dupont Hockey Club.
The first recipient will be unveiled at the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 20th. A memorial to Haugan is also in the works in the Town of Peace River.