Retired NHL hockey player Laurie Boschman shared words of encouragement and inspiration following last Friday’s Humboldt tragedy during the annual Central Alberta Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast Tuesday.
Boschman told the crowd gathered in the Parkland Pavilion that he had decided in light of the tragedy, which claimed 15 lives, to change the direction of his talk.
“In light of what has transpired in the last few days, I’ve changed the trajectory of the direction I had wanted to go in this morning.
“I also feel it’s appropriate here in Red Deer that we have this place where we can come together and call upon the Lord for the community, but also in light of what has just happened in Humboldt.”
Boschman played in the NHL for 14 seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators.
Boschman, who is the father of three sons, hails from Saskatchewan. He is now part of Hockey Ministries International, which provides spiritual support for those in the world of hockey.
“I cried because I thought about how frightened and disoriented those kids would have been. I cried because I thought of the families whose hearts were being torn apart hearing the news that their sons had died in that crash.”
Tears also came at the thought of the loss of head coach Darcy Haugan, who Boschman had come to know as well.
“Of course, at a time like this, you go back and you think about those situations.”
Boschman spoke of his own younger years of chasing his dreams of one day playing in the NHL, and how with all teams, long trips on the bus are just part of the experience.
“We’d be gone for two weeks at a time – we’d be doing our homework on the bus, play cards and talk about life,” he recalled, adding that he’s also been thinking about his own three sons and how they many times boarded buses and headed off to games.
“I’m certain many here today have kids in hockey, soccer, ringette, baseball – and you have some of those same thoughts and feelings upon hearing the news this past weekend,” he said. “Thoughts of utter despair and disbelief.”
Boschman pointed to the outpouring of support that Canadians have shown in the wake of the tragedy as well.
“We are a nation in mourning.
“I have been in fervent prayer for these families and the community as they try and make sense of something that is so hard to understand.”
His Christian faith is what has helped to carry him through these horrendous seasons of loss, whether directly personal or when witnessing tragedies such as what happened April 6th.
He shared how even with his early success, he felt a sense of emptiness and sought a deeper purpose to his life.
“I remember thinking is this all life has to offer?” Through a friend, who told him he tried to use the Bible as a guide for his life, Boschman discovered a new life through Christianity, he said.
Finding faith empowered him and gave him that purpose – and it’s provided the strength and comfort he has needed through the years as he has experienced his own devastating losses, including the deaths of his sister and wife.
“Many times we are looking for answers – sometimes we look to the scriptures for some comfort.
“Sometimes, we just want to walk with those people. I just wanted (today) to point people to the hope that we can find in the pages of scripture.”