A young girl gets out of a car outside the Rath-Eastlink Community Centre and walks over to stand beside an over-sized hockey stick and puck.
She pays little attention to the stick; instead, she reads an inscription on the face of the large puck:
“That’s pretty cool,” said Kennedy Pierce, 10, after reading the inscription.
The hockey stick has a 20-foot-long shaft and five-foot blade. It was created by Salmon River welder and fabricator Wayne Smith, as a tribute to the Humboldt Broncos hockey team involved in the April 6 tragedy involving a highway crash between their team bus and a tractor trailer.
In all, 16 people including players, others connected with the team and the bus driver were killed. Another 13 were injured.
Beyond the tragedy itself, Smith had his inspiration.
“Right there is your answer,” Smith said, as he watched Kennedy read his poem.
“Like the poem says, we should have our youth aware of certain circumstance, like how fragile life is because it can change so quickly, right?” he said. “And by doing this and comparing it with the thing in Humboldt, they can relate to that.”
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Despite her young age, Peirce said she has been thinking about the Broncos team and others affected by the crash.
“I heard about it and I was pretty upset about it,” she said. “Because they were people who didn’t deserve to die. That’s pretty sad.”
The hockey stick sculpture will be placed just outside the lower entrance to the community centre where it will become a permanent fixture and tribute, said general manager Matt Moore.
“When Wayne called, there was no question, we were happy to be the recipient,” Moore said. “And I instantly related it to that tribute that’s been going across the country where folks have left their sticks out on their porch at night. And I thought this was a great way for our facility to follow suit and leave our stick out on our porch.”
Given the proximity to the hospital, Moore said others may find different ways of relating their own personal life tragedies to the sculpture while taking comfort in what it represents.
“It will definitely speak for itself,” Smith said, “…to show our care and compassion down here. Because everybody from Atlantic Canada have big hearts.”
• The hockey stick and puck of Wayne Smith’s work are made of aluminum, three-eighths of an inch thick;
• The stick and puck are made to scale, at five times their actual size;
• The stick has a 20-ft.-long shaft and five-ft.-long blade;
• It is fastened to steel tubing with stainless steel bolts so as not to rust;
• The piece sits on a slab of three-quarter-inch plate steel measuring four ft. by 16 ft. and weighing 2,000 lbs.
Like the saying goes
only the good die young.
In saying that everything
happens for a reason.
Because of this loss of young lives it shows
how we all can come together and be strong.
Because we all need each other for that
It is when this happens we think of each
other – but we should think like that all year
long because life can be gone too quick.
From all of us to those taken
before their time.
Wayne D. Smith