Colby Cave, a forward with the Edmonton Oilers, died Saturday, four days after he had surgery to remove a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain. He was 25.
"It is with great sadness to share the news that our Colby Cave passed away early this morning," his wife, Emily, said in a message. "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."
Cave was hospitalized after sustaining a brain bleed overnight Monday into Tuesday and had been in a medically induced coma.
"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 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. We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Emily, their families and Colby's countless friends throughout the hockey world."
Cave scored one goal in 11 games with the Oilers this season and had 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 44 games with Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. He was in his second season with the Oilers after being claimed off waivers from the Bruins on Jan. 15, 2019. In three seasons with the Oilers and Bruins, Cave had nine points (four goals, five assists) in 67 NHL games.
"On behalf of the Edmonton Oilers hockey club and the Bakersfield Condors, we wanted to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of our teammate Colby Cave after his passing earlier this morning," the Oilers said in a statement. "Colby was a terrific teammate with great character, admired and liked everywhere he played. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Emily, his family and friends at this very difficult time."
Oilers captain Connor McDavid said, "Heavy heart today. You were an amazing person and always brought so much energy and positivity into the room and people's lives. You will be deeply missed Caver. Sending all my love to Emily and the entire Cave family through this difficult time."
Cave was signed by the Bruins as an undrafted free agent on April 7, 2015 and made his NHL debut on Dec. 21, 2017.
"On behalf of the entire Bruins organization I want to extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to Colby's family," Boston president Cam Neely said. "As an undrafted free agent from Saskatchewan, Colby chose the Bruins and once he came to our organization, he seized the opportunity and showed on and off the ice that he was a special hockey player and person. He was, and will always be a Bruin, and he will be dearly missed by everyone who was lucky enough to know him."
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said, "I'm very saddened by the news of Colby's passing this morning. He was a tremendous young man with passion, dedication and respect for the game of hockey. Beyond that he was genuine, respectful and always full of life. I'm glad our paths crossed and I had the chance to get to know him. He will be dearly missed by all."
Cave's agent, Jason Davidson, told Sportsnet on Tuesday there was no link to COVID-19 and that his client was not involved in any kind of accident.
"The most confusing part for everyone is that you're talking about a young, healthy athlete," Davidson said. "This isn't supposed to happen to people to like Colby."