How can you possibly return to the ice after fellow teammates, coaches and others close to you die? That path is explored through the eyes of Humboldt Broncos players and their families in the heartbreaking and touching “Humboldt: The New Season.”
Debuting as part of CBC Docs POV on Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC, “Humboldt: The New Season” follows five of the survivors—Brayden Camrud and Derek Patter as they return to play for the 2018-2019 Humboldt hockey season with a different coaching staff and new teammates—and Tyler Smith, Kaleb Dahlgren and Layne Matechuk as they continue their recovery while pursuing their love of hockey in new ways.
Produced by Chris McIvor and Libby Lea of Frank Digital and Lucas Frison and Élise Beaudry-Ferland of Prairie Cat Productions, “Humboldt: The New Season” recalls the horrific crash between the Broncos bus and a tractor-trailer on that lonely road on April 6, 2018. Sixteen perished and those left behind have been affected physically and mentally for the rest of their lives. Set against a haunting rendition of Tom Cochrane’s “Big League,” while a drone hovers over kids playing hockey on a frozen pond, “Humboldt: The New Season” is a gut-punch from Minute 1.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to return after my injuries,” Brayden Camrud says in the opening minutes. “It’s been tough. You have a lot to think about. You think about all those other guys every day. I think about the boys who aren’t here.” Much of the documentary is spent telling the stories of those who were lost, including coach Darcy Haugan, assistant coach Mark Cross and athletic therapist Dayna Brons.
It’s also about healing, whether it’s the players themselves or the small town of Humboldt, whose citizens were thrust onto the world stage because of the accident and who rallied around each other.
The danger of making a project like this is that it can feel invasive, an excuse to get into the faces of those affected and exploit them. But the producers don’t ever do that. The result is a tear-filled story of remembrance and respect that everyone should watch.
“Humboldt: The New Season” airs as part of CBC Docs POV on Thursday at 9 p.m. on CBC.