Keith Hendry remembered as the 'backbone' of Mount Pearl hockey on Hockey Night in Canada

The hockey community in Mount Pearl, and coast to coast across Canada, paid tribute to the memory of Keith Hendry on Saturday's edition of Hockey Night in Canada.

The 37-year-old husband, father of two, and Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association coach died in an accident on the weekend of Nov. 10, when the pickup truck he was in went off a bridge and into a river.

The day of Hendry's funeral, Nov. 17, coincided with the start of Mount Pearl's Rogers Hometown Hockey event, as well as a tribute to him that evening, during the Coach's Corner segment of Hockey Night in Canada.

On that broadcast, Ron McLean called Hendry "the backbone" of the town's minor hockey scene, and Don Cherry added, "we're thinking of you."

A close friend of the Hendry family, as well as a minor hockey volunteer and Hometown Hockey organizer, said at first, any sort of celebration in Mount Pearl felt out of place.

"We've just lost a former player — he grew up going through the association, he's a coach, he's a parent — how can we have a whole weekend of celebrating hockey, when this tragic accident is overshadowing everything?" said Kim Pelley.

But Pelley said it soon became clear that keeping Hendry at the forefront of the festivities, with his family involved in a ceremonial puck drop, was the perfect sendoff.

"It actually was a fabulous tribute to him, to remember what he loved. He loved hockey," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show, adding Hendry was never someone to shy away from the spotlight.

"Keith was someone who would love a little bit of this attention."

Family 'overwhelmed'

Pelley said Hendry's family have been moved by the outpouring of support.

"All these things are just making them overwhelmed," Pelley said.

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When the idea of Hendry's widow Tammy and his two young sons dropping the puck at Saturday evening's game was floated, Pelley was concerned perhaps it would be too much attention.

But Pelley said Tammy Hendry "beamed," and said, "we're doing this for Keith."

"It was just like the biggest honour, of being able to remember him," she said.

Pelley said despite the love shown this past weekend, it's still an incredibly tough loss in the community.

"He was funny, he was knowledgeable," Pelley remembered of her friend.

A fundraiser established to help Hendry's wife and sons has now been changed, at the family's request, to be used to help children play hockey, who may otherwise not be able to do so.

Pelley said that idea "is the essence of what [Keith] would want."

"If somebody can play hockey because of Keith, he would be, he will be, beaming."

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