The San Jose Sharks locker room was in a somber mood Saturday morning due to learning the news of former teammate Tom Cavanagh’s passing. The 28-year-old died Thursday morning in Providence, R.I.
His former Sharks teammates remember Cavanagh for being a hard worker, bringing a positive attitude to the locker room and for being quick to make his teammates laugh.
“I got to know him through hockey at Worcester and I got the privilege of spending a Christmas together here,” said Jamie McGinn. “It’s kind of a big shocker. I’m still in shock; it’s really sad. He’s a great guy.”
Cavanagh played 18 NHL games with San Jose over two seasons, 2007-09, tallying one goal, two assists and four penalty minutes.
“He was a happy-go-lucky guy,” added defenseman Jason Demers
. “He always came in happy. He never brought a bad mood to the rink. That’s for sure something that he’ll be remember for and that’s what I remember most about him.”
In his very first career game on April 3, 2008, on his very first shift, Cavanagh tallied an assist on Joe Thornton
’s goal and set a franchise record by recording a point a mere 36 seconds into his first NHL game. It was also the fourth-fastest point in an NHL debut since 1989-90.
“One thing I recognized was that he cared,” Ryane Clowe
said. “He cared a lot about how he performed, he cared about his game, and he was really hard on himself. As a player, you like to see that. It shows that he cares and took it to heart.”
In addition to being known for his work ethic, Cavanagh’s former teammates noted he was very easy to have fun with.
“He was easy to put a smile on his face,” McGinn said. “We joked around. We got along great. He was something special for sure.”
Added Demers: “He makes everyone laugh around him. He brings everyone close.”
San Jose drafted Cavanagh in the sixth round (182nd overall) of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft after he was named to Eastern College Athletic Conference Second All-Star Team and was one of Harvard’s leading scorers in his senior year.
“One thing, we liked to point out was that he had to be a smart kid because he’s from Harvard,” said Clowe with a slight smile about Cavanagh’s Ivy League pedigree. “It’s a sad day. I’m sure it’s a sad day for Harvard.”
The Toll Gate High, Warwick, R.I., native attended Harvard where his father, Joseph, is considered one of Harvard hockey’s all-time greats, and compiled 48 goals, 69 assists for 117 points in his four-year collegiate career with Harvard and went on to pursue professional hockey in 2005.
In his final game with Harvard, in the NCAA Tournament, Cavanagh made in his 138th career appearance in a Crimson jersey to become the first Harvard player to play every single one of the Crimson’s game during his career.
Cavanagh spent four seasons within the Sharks organization, including stints with the Cleveland Barons in the 2005-06 season and with the Worcester Sharks from 2006-2009
The forward remains the all-time leading scorer for the Worcester Sharks with 138 points (46 goals, 92 assists) in 202 games.
Cavanagh’s father, Joseph Cavanagh, released a statement Friday night: “We hope that his friends and supporters will pray for him and for us during these difficult days. We already have felt the love of so many people of our community. Our family will celebrate and always remember his beautiful but short life.”
During the 2009-10 hockey season, Cavanagh played for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs and the Springfield Falcons following his stint with Worcester though he was not playing professionally at the time of his death.
“He’s a great guy. Anyone can get along with him and he’s great for the locker room,” McGinn added. “I just send my condolences out to his family and friends. I know it’s a really tough time and it’s sad to hear.”