By Nick Greenizan – Peace Arch News
The Surrey Eagles are set to honour the memory – and the jersey number – of Humboldt Broncos’ bus-crash victim Jaxon Joseph this Friday at South Surrey Arena.
Prior to the Eagles’ game against the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings, the BC Hockey League team will honour Joseph by retiring his No. 10 and raising a banner into the rafters.
Joseph – the son of former NHLer Chris Joseph – played 21 games with Surrey during the 2015/16 season before moving on to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, where he played with the Melfort Mustangs and then the Broncos.
He was one of 16 people killed April 6 when the team bus collided with a truck on a Saskatchewan highway.
“We’re just going to pay our respects to the entire (Humboldt) team, and then honour Jaxon and celebrate him, and retire that No. 10,” said Eagles general manager Blaine Neufeld, who was also the coach of the team during the 2015/16 season.
Prior to the start of the junior ‘A’ hockey season, teams from across the country– including the Eagles – hung banners in honour of the Broncos, as per a request from the Canadian Junior Hockey League, Neufeld said.
“It was nice to see that,” he said.
On Friday, Joseph’s immediate family – who live in Edmonton – will be in attendance, Neufeld said, as will many other family and friends from around the Lower Mainland.
Neufeld will speak during the ceremony, as will Dave Pundick, a longtime family friend of the Josephs whose family also billeted Jaxon when he played in South Surrey.
Already, Joseph has been honoured in Melfort as well as in Humboldt; the Broncos’ season-opener game was broadcast on national television, complete with pre and post-game ceremonies.
“It’s been a pretty tough two or three weeks for (the Joseph family), for sure,” said Pundick, who added that in his speech he simply wants to let people here know what type of person Jaxon was.
“He was a real family guy. He was a people person, and just wanted to be around friends and family. We’ve probably had five Eagles billets live with us over the years, and some are a little more shy and spent a lot of time in their rooms, but Jaxon just wanted to be around us.
“He knew us better, I guess, but he interacted with everyone, he helped out… he was part of the family really quickly.”