Colby Cave, an excellent teammate whose lone goal for the Edmonton Oilers this season came on an “awesome” rush down the ice, died on Saturday after a brain bleed this week. He was 25.
The NHL club did not say what caused the bleed.
Cave’s agent, Jason Davidson, has said that the condition did not appear linked to COVID-19.
“Our Colby was loved dearly by us, his family and friends, the entire hockey community, and many more,” his family said in a statement.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Cave’s “life and hockey career, though too short, were inspiringly emblematic of the best of our game.”
“Undrafted, but undaunted, Colby was relentless in the pursuit of his hockey dream,” Bettman said.
Cave was was placed in a medically induced coma on Tuesday at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. He was airlifted to Toronto after being admitted to a hospital in Barrie, Ontario, on Monday. Cave underwent emergency surgery on Tuesday to remove a colloid cyst causing pressure on his brain.
On Wednesday, his wife, Emily, posted an emotional update:
“We need a miracle,” she wrote on Instagram. “Colby’s parents and myself, got to see him through a window and talk to him with a walkie talkie last night. We are no longer allowed to be in the hospital because COVID-19 rules. We have no idea when we will be allowed to see him again.”
“The nurse has tied his wedding band to his ankle. I am dreaming of being able to touch you, hear your voice, squeeze your hand (3 times), and kiss you again. I love you so much, and my heart is shattered into a million pieces without my best friend,” she wrote.
Cave scored once in 11 appearances with Edmonton this season. He had 11 goals and 23 points in 44 games with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Bakersfield Condors.
“Colby was a terrific teammate with great character, admired and liked everywhere he played,” Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson and general manager Ken Holland said in a joint statement.
The Oilers posted Cave’s goal on Twitter this week — an impressive rush down the right wing in which he beat a Pittsburgh defender and stuffed the puck past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray.
“Colby is an awesome person who scored an awesome goal for us this season,” the team said.
Cave had four goals and five assists over 67 NHL games with the Boston Bruins and Edmonton.
Boston forward Jake DeBrusk played with Cave in the Western Hockey League (WHL) and again in the Bruins organization.
“I was lucky to play junior hockey with Colby,” DeBrusk said on social media. “He was our captain and leader. It was an unforgettable moment when we again played together in the NHL for the Boston Bruins.”
Cave played five seasons with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos before joining the Bruins’ organization for the 2014-2015 season after going undrafted. The Oilers claimed Cave off waivers on Jan. 15 last year.
The 185cm, 90kg Cave made his NHL debut with Boston on Dec. 21, 2017, after getting called up from Providence of the AHL. He played three games with Boston that season.
Mark Lamb, Cave’s coach and general manager at Swift Current, recalled an “infectious smile” and a “great person to be around.” “He was just an all-around player,” Lamb said from his home in Prince George, British Columbia, on Saturday. “And probably if he wasn’t the best two-way player in the league, he was right there.”
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