For sports fans, it’s always shocking to hear about the passing of a current star. That was especially true in April 2020, when an Edmonton Oilers player died in tragic circumstances at the age of 25. In the wake of the ice hockey player’s death, his colleagues and wife then shared some heartfelt tributes online.
As a center, the hockey player made his professional breakthrough back in 2015, joining the Boston Bruins. After signing his contract, he devoted the next three years of his career to their development team. During that time with the Providence Bruins, the starlet scored over 40 goals on the ice.
From there, the center was called up to the Boston Bruins first team, with whom he went on to make more than 20 appearances in the National Hockey League (NHL). Thanks to his performances, he caught the attention of the Edmonton Oilers at the start of 2019. The Canadian side subsequently recruited him that January.
Following that pivotal moment, the rising star began to establish himself in the NHL, featuring in 44 games over the next two seasons. And if that wasn’t enough, he tied the knot with his long-term partner during that period as well. But like we mentioned earlier, his life was cut tragically short in April 2020.
At this stage, you’re probably wondering who the player in question is. Well, his name was Colby Cave, and he had an incredibly bright future ahead of him in the NHL, as proved by his stats. However, hockey fans around the world were left heartbroken by the news of Colby’s sudden passing.
Indeed, the tributes to Colby began to pour in following his death, with his colleagues sharing their shock at what happened. To begin with, the Edmonton Oilers released a statement. In that message, the club acknowledged his work with both the first-team and their development side, but that’s not all.
The statement read, “On behalf of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club and the Bakersfield Condors, we wanted to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends after the passing of our teammate Colby Cave earlier this morning. Colby was a terrific teammate with great character, admired and liked everywhere he played.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to [Colby’s] wife Emily, his family and friends at this very difficult time,” the statement concluded. Those heartfelt words were echoed by one of Colby’s old bosses too, who wrote up a message of his own. We’re referring to Jay Woodcroft, the head coach of the Bakersfield Condors.
For you see, while Colby was establishing himself with the Edmonton Oilers, he also spent some time in the Bakersfield Condors side. As we highlighted before, they’re the NHL club’s development team. In total, he played over 40 games for them, scoring 11 goals and notching 12 assists on the ice.
So with that in mind, Woodcroft’s statement read, “Heartbreaking news to end a very difficult week. Colby was just such a phenomenal person to be around. He was the epitome of what a professional hockey player should be: caring, driven, focused and serious. Our thoughts and prayers continue to remain with Emily and the entire Cave family.”
Meanwhile, the NHL responded to the tragedy as well. Much like Woodcroft and the Edmonton Oilers, the organization paid tribute to Colby, noting that he hadn’t had the easiest path into the sport. To give you some background, the center hadn’t been picked up in the league’s 2015 draft, ahead of his move to the Boston Bruins.
As for the NHL’s statement, it came courtesy of the commissioner Gary Bettman. He wrote, “The National Hockey League family mourns the heartbreaking passing of Colby Cave, whose life and hockey career, though too short, were inspiringly emblematic of the best of our game.” And his words didn’t end there.
Bettman added, “Undrafted but undaunted, Colby was relentless in the pursuit of his hockey dream with both the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins organizations. An earnest and hardworking player, he was admired by his teammates and coaches. More important, he was a warm and generous person who was well-liked by all those fortunate enough to know him.”
On that note, let’s take a closer look at Colby’s life before he became a hockey star. Born in December 1994, he spent his formative years just outside Battleford, a community in Saskatchewan, Canada. The future NHL player lived on a homestead with his family, and displayed a couple of different talents.
In addition to Colby’s skills with a hockey stick, he showed promise on the baseball field too. Away from sport, the youngster also had an interest in drama, which he pursued at his primary school. Indeed, he joined a club dedicated to the subject, where he could flex his fledgling acting muscles.
However, hockey remained Colby’s driving passion as he became a teenager. During that time, he tried his hand in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League after joining the Battleford Stars in 2009. Over the course of two years, the aspiring player went on to score 29 goals in 86 appearances.
Off the back of those performances, Colby was then recruited by the Swift Current Broncos in 2011. The junior side formed part of the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he spent the next four years of his career. At that stage, the Canadian really upped his game on the ice, as we’re about to discover.
Colby made close to 290 appearances for the Swift Current Broncos, scoring 95 goals in the WHL. Alongside that, he registered 107 assists as well, highlighting his importance to the team. Thanks to those numbers, the center was up for selection in the NHL draft, which we touched upon a little earlier.
But away from Colby’s hockey career, his personal life also took an exciting turn during that period too. Back in 2013, he began to talk with a young woman online, who would later become his wife. Surprisingly, though, he and Emily Cave didn’t actually meet face-to-face for another couple of years.
Despite striking up a bond on the internet, Colby and Emily were very different people. For instance, she wasn’t a fan of hockey, which might’ve been a deal-breaker for other individuals in the former’s position. Yet regardless of that, the rising star eventually talked her into seeing him in 2015.
At that point, Colby was just getting his feet under the table with the Providence Bruins, so Emily traveled down from Canada to meet him. To explain what happened next, she opened up to The Globe and Mail newspaper in April 2020. According to her, things didn’t get off to the smoothest of starts.
“I was skeptical [at first],” Emily admitted to the Canadian publication. “[Colby] was waiting at the arrivals area at the airport, and I walked right past him. I was so nervous, I didn’t recognize him.” Colby quickly intercepted her, before the pair shared a kiss. By the end of that trip, she believed that she’d found “the one.”
From there, Emily and Colby’s romantic bond continued to flourish, as they stayed together for more than five years. Then, the NHL star took their relationship to the next level in June 2018. While the pair were in Saskatchewan, he asked for her hand in marriage, which she gladly accepted.
Colby and Emily tied the knot during the summer of 2019 in Ontario, Canada, with the former reeling off some emotional vows. He informed his partner, “You take my breath away. You are everything I could imagine in a wife and more. Six years ago, I laid eyes on you for the first time. I remember thinking, ‘This is what perfection looks like.’”
Sadly, though, Colby and Emily’s life as a married couple only lasted for a few months. Following the center’s untimely passing, his wife composed a statement which she released on April 11, 2020. In that emotional message, she conveyed how she and her family and friends were feeling at the time, admitting that the loss had hit them all hard.
Emily wrote, “It is with great sadness to share the news that our Colby Cave passed away early this morning. I and both our families are in shock but know our Colby was loved dearly by us, his family and friends, the entire hockey community, and many more. We thank everyone for their prayers during this difficult time.”
Prior to Colby’s death, he’d been suffering with a persistent headache. Despite the discomfort, he didn’t think it was a serious issue, so he carried on as normal. However, that all changed on the morning of April 7, 2020: the hockey player wouldn’t stir from his sleep, leaving Emily in a terrifying situation.
At that stage, Colby was transported to a medical facility to assess what happened to him. Given his condition, he was then sent to a different hospital, where he underwent a brain operation. Ahead of the surgery, the NHL star’s physicians were of the opinion that he had suffered a brain bleed.
Once the procedure started, though, the doctors identified the problem. As it turned out, Colby had developed a cyst – a fluid-filled cavity – on his brain. It was a rare diagnosis, but that wasn’t the biggest issue. Unfortunately, the growth had ruptured, so its fluid began to exert pressure upon this most vital of organs.
Colby’s physicians went on to lift the cyst from his brain, ahead of putting him into a medically-induced coma. After that, Emily and the family weren’t allowed to share the same room with the hockey player, so they had to watch on from outside. Sadly, he didn’t wake up again.
As Colby’s family tried to come to terms with what had transpired over those few days, his agent offered some words to The Globe and Mail. Jason Davidson was much like everyone else after his client’s death, stunned by its suddenness. Yet despite that, he focused on the center’s attitude prior to falling ill.
“[Colby] earned every opportunity he was given,” Davidson told the newspaper in April 2020. “Everybody should take a page out of Colby Cave’s book. [But] none of us understand [how this happened to him]. All of us are asking, ‘Why?’” That earlier sentiment was also shared by one of Colby’s old teammates.
Indeed, Eric Gryba once played for the Edmonton Oilers, and he had taken part in some training sessions with Colby in 2019. Gryba informed the paper, “It is really easy to fall in love with his story. Nothing was ever given to him. He was just a salt-of-the-earth, hard-working, honest Saskatchewan kid.”
Meanwhile, Emily penned another message after Colby slipped away, this time communicated via her Instagram account. Unlike her previous statement, this post was loaded with raw emotion, as she paid tribute to her husband. And alongside that, it featured three heartbreaking photographs that captured the couple together in the hospital room.
Emily wrote, “To my best friend and love of my life, Colby. My heart is shattered. The amount of physical, mental and emotional pain I am in when I think about never seeing, touching, or holding you again is unbearable. You are and will always be my person, my hero, the greatest thing to happen to me.”
“I never dreamed of being a widow before our first wedding anniversary,” Emily continued. “Although every cell in my body is lost without you, I promise to continue to make you proud. You were the best friend, husband, doggy daddy, and oh how I wished to see you as a baby daddy. I’ll see you again soon, Colb.”
However, Emily’s post didn’t conclude there, as she added one final message. Colby’s wife said, “I don’t want to stop writing, just like I didn’t want to stop holding you this morning at the hospital. You are my everything. You always will be. Thank you for now being the best guardian angel.”
Emily’s touching words drew a big response on Instagram, as users tried to offer their condolences after Colby’s passing. The social media post has since earned more than 213,000 likes, while it also generated just under 12,000 comments too. Many of those messages were incredibly kind and supportive.
Away from social media, Emily opened up again during her talk with The Globe and Mail in April 2020. She looked back on Colby’s approach to life, and how he had made her feel over the course of their relationship. But that wasn’t all, though, as we’re about to find out.
Emily told the newspaper, “[Colby] could make me laugh or be positive in any situation. With him, the glass was always half-full. He was selflessly caring. He would grab my hand, put on some music, smile and slow dance with me in the kitchen. I told him he was going to make a great husband and a great dad.”