NHL players, fans pay tribute to Humboldt bus crash victims

Saturday was the final night of the regular season for most of the National Hockey League's teams. But as NHL players and fans looked forward to next week's start of the Stanley Cup playoffs, many also focused on Friday's tragic bus crash in Canada that killed 15 people -- including 10 young amateur hockey players.

Most players in the NHL started out just like the members of the Humboldt Broncos -- the 16-to-20-year-old players from a small Saskatchewan town who were involved in the crash of the team's bus with a semi-truck on a highway near Tisdale, Sask.

The Winnipeg Jets and the Chicago Blackhawks come together at center ice wearing Broncos on the back of their jerseys for a moment of silence for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims before NHL hockey game action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Saturday, April 7, 2018. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks players meet at center ice for a moment of silence for the Humboldt Broncos bus crash victims before a game in Winnipeg, Manitoba, April 7, 2018.  (Canadian Press via Associated Press)

Many of today's highly paid pros began as players on youth teams, spending long hours on bus rides, traveling from game to game.

The connection was evident Saturday night in Winnipeg, where the hometown Jets and visiting Chicago Blackhawks each bore the name "BRONCOS" on the backs of their uniforms, in tribute to the Humboldt team.

There and in other NHL arenas -- in cities such as Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Nashville and Denver -- players and fans who live a long way from Saskatchewan also stood for a moment of silence to honor those who lost their lives.

"It was a very somber mood on the ice, kind of one of those things where it could have been any one of us," Andrew Copp of the Jets said. "You kind of count your blessings. You kind of look to the guy to your left and right, they're not usual teammates or brothers, but you feel that sense of camaraderie and community with them."

Earlier, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's office released a statement in support of all those affected by the crash, including the victims, families and communites. And the league's tweets said "tonight, we're all Broncos," and hockey is "a sport, united."

Meanwhile, an official GoFundMe page to benefit the players and families affected by the crash, as of Sunday morning, had raised nearly $3 million of its $4 million goal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Amy Lieu is a news editor and reporter for Fox News.