Former NHL player Nathan Oystrick named Humboldt Broncos head coach-GM

A Regina-born former NHL defenceman is the new coach and general manager of the Humboldt Broncos, the team that lost its coach and 15 others in the deadly bus crash in Saskatchewan in April.

Nathan Oystrick, 35, was introduced at a ceremony in Humboldt on Tuesday.

During his NHL career, Oystrick played for the Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues.

“I understand how much the Broncos have always meant to the community of Humboldt, but I also understand what the team means to so many people across North America and globally,” said Oystrick.

Humboldt Broncos head coach Nathan Oystrick speaks to reporters 0:28

The Junior A hockey club has been rebuilding since the crash, which occurred while the team bus was travelling to Nipawin for a semifinal playoff game. The bus and a semi-trailer collided, killing head coach and general manager Darcy Haugan and 15 other people associated with the team.

I did not know Darcy Haugan, but like so many people in this world today, I wish I had.– Humboldt Broncos head coach and GM Nathan Oystrick

Haugan was honoured with the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas last month.

Christina Haugan and surviving members of the Humboldt Broncos accept the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award for her late husband Darcy, coach of the team who died in a bus crash on April 6 that also killed 15 others. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

“I did not know Darcy Haugan, but like so many people in this world today, I wish I had,” said Oystrick. “I believe in his commitment to not only building skilled hockey players, but developing skilled human beings.”

Back on ice

In early May, Broncos president Kevin Garinger announced the team would be back on the ice in time for the 2018-19 season.

​”What I appreciate about Nathan is that he’s committed to people first,” said Garinger. “And through the commitment to people, then, comes a commitment, then, to an organization, to a community and ultimately, a hockey team.”

Humboldt Broncos president Kevin Garinger says former coach Darcy Haugan was the ‘heart and soul’ of the team. 0:28

While the team president said he’s confident Oystrick was the right pick for the job, he said Haugan will be missed.

“The face and the heart and the soul of this operation was Darcy Haugan,” said Garinger. “Now we have someone here who can step into that role.”

Oystrick said his passion for the game and for developing players will be fuelling his work.

“I’m committed to the game, I’m committed to helping people,” he said. “I’m going to push our players to be the best that they can.”