Colby Cave, an excellent teammate whose lone goal for the Edmonton Oilers this season came on an “awesome” rush down the ice, died 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 the condition did not appear linked to the coronavirus.
“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,” he added.
Cave was was placed in a medically induced coma 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 Tuesday to remove a colloid cyst causing pressure on the 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.”
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 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 goalie 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 Boston and Edmonton.
Boston forward Jake DeBrusk played with Cave in the Western Hockey League and again in the Bruins organization.
“I was lucky to play junior hockey with Colby,” he 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 2014-15 season after going undrafted. The Oilers claimed Cave off waivers on Jan. 15, 2019.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound 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.
Cave played 15 more games with Boston in 2018 before the Oilers claimed him.
Cave was born in Battleford, Sasketchewan, and his death comes just more than two years after another hockey tragedy in the province. Sixteen people died when the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team’s bus crashed on April 6, 2018.
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,” he 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.”
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.