Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave died Saturday morning, days after undergoing emergency surgery for a brain bleed, his family announced.
He was 25.
“It is with great sadness to share the news that our Colby Cave passed away early this morning,” Cave’s family said in a statement.
“I (wife Emily) 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.”
On Tuesday, Cave had emergency surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.
He remained in a medically induced coma following the procedure as doctors fought to save his life at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.
Cave’s family was not allowed to be in the hospital with him because of coronavirus precautions, but Emily said during the week she and his parents got to see him through a window and talk to him with a walkie talkie.
Cave, who got married last summer, split this season between the Oilers and AHL Bakersfield.
Emily Cave last week posted on Instagram a heartbreaking message where she admitted the family was praying for a miracle recovery.
“Please wake up. Please wake up,” she wrote on Instagram.
“It’s all I can keep asking, ‘he’s going to wake up right?’ We need a miracle.
“We have no idea when we will be allowed to see him again. The nurse has tied his wedding band to his ankle,” she continued.
“I am dreaming of being able to touch you, hear your voice, squeeze your hand (3 times), and kiss you again.”
On Wednesday, Emily told her followers she endured “the worst days of [her] life,” as Colby underwent surgery with doctors “fighting to keep him alive.”
Cave previously played for the Boston Bruins.
“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,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
“Undrafted but undaunted, Colby was relentless in the pursuit of his hockey dream with both the Edmonton Oilers and Boston Bruins organisations. 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. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Emily, their families and Colby’s countless friends throughout the hockey world.”
AHL president and CEO David Andrews also paid tribute to Cave.
“Colby Cave was beloved as a teammate and friend, as a husband and son,” Andrews said in a statement.
“The entire American Hockey League extends our deepest condolences to Colby’s wife, Emily, and his entire family, as well as to those whose lives he touched in the Oilers and Bruins organizations and throughout hockey.”