Smiles have been lacking in Saskatchewan since the Humboldt hockey team's tragic bus accident. Ryan O'Reilly brought a few Tuesday.
The Buffalo Sabres forward joined Edmonton captain Connor McDavid for a tour of area schools and the Broncos' arena, then headed 70 miles west to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to visit injured players in the hospital. Sixteen people died when the Humboldt team bus was involved in an accident April 6 on the way to a junior-league game.
"It's a heavy day," O'Reilly told reporters in Saskatchewan. "You think of how many bus trips you've been on and how close you are at that age. You all go to school together. You see each other so much, and to have that torn apart … anything you can do to help that."
O'Reilly and McDavid played for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, and they joined team owner Sherry Bassin on the journey.
"There's so many guys around the league that would love to be here," O'Reilly said. "To be part of this and to help put some smiles on some faces and just be a part of this community for a little (while), it's heavy. It weighs heavy to be around and see the faces.
"To cheer some people up, that was special. It's tough to describe how this day was."
— Aimee Basset (@AimeeBasset) April 18, 2018
While describing the hospital visit as "very special," O'Reilly also talked of the community impact. At one of the schools, the players encountered a student who clearly was a fan of McDavid.
"When Connor walked in, one of the kids had an Oilers shirt on and just broke down crying," O'Reilly said. "I think he was just so shocked to see him, and it was pretty special to be part of that and just witness that, how coming here made such an impact. It was just a really special moment."
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 18, 2018
Story topics: Ryan O'Reilly