Summer 2024

Fallen NHL player Colby Cave remembered by his wife, Emily Cave

Former NHL player Colby Cave’s tragic death on April 11 due to a brain bleed reverberated around the league. Now in a first-person account with ESPN, Cave’s wife, Emily, has shared her story of that devastating day.

Emily revealed what occurred in the hours and days leading up to Colby’s death, and the ways she will seek to continue Colby’s legacy in his absence.

Married less than a year, the couple was in Toronto preparing to ride out the coronavirus pandemic with Emily’s parents. On Monday, April 6, Colby was interviewed by a friend from the Caves’s church in Boston. Shortly after, he was informed that he would be returning to the Edmonton Oilers once NHL play resumed.

As the night wore on, Colby, only 25, began to complain of a headache. Things worsened and by the morning, he had arrived at the hospital unresponsive. Doctors found a colloid cyst and underwent emergency surgery. As he was placed on life support and in a medically-induced coma, Emily saw him only once more before his death.

“I fell in love with Colby for many reasons, but most important was his character,” Emily wrote in her ESPN article. “He wasn’t just a good person, he was incredible. He always wanted to help other people. Every morning we had a mantra that we would say to each other: ‘Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody.’ That’s how Colby and I lived. And even though he’s no longer physically here with me, I know we are together, working as a married couple, and he’s giving me strength from heaven to continue to inspire and help other people.”

Emily detailed how their relationship formed and progressed from the time they met on Instagram in 2013 until Colby’s last four days of life. She reached out on social media to ask for prayers in the midst of her pain and uncertainty, and as news spread about Colby, she said she felt fully supported by everyone in the hockey community.

Colby appeared in 67 games over four NHL seasons and played with the Boston Bruins in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. It was there that he met his friend, mentor and fellow follower of Christ, David Backes.

“David Backes and his wife, Kelly, set up daily Zoom prayer groups with other athletes during those four days, praying for a miracle,” Emily wrote. “We haven’t been able to hold a funeral for Colby yet, but I’ve already asked David to speak at it because he was an incredible mentor to Colby. I know Colby admired him so much.”

The Oilers franchise contacted Emily shortly after Colby’s death to express their interest in starting a fund in his honor. Emily quickly agreed.

“The Colby Cave Memorial Fund supports community programs involving mental health and will help underprivileged children with access to sports,” Emily said.

Even as she deals with despair, Emily hopes in God, believing that Colby lives on in Heaven and in the lives soon to be touched by his memorial fund.

“The past few weeks,” Emily wrote recently on Instagram, “I’ve heard multiple stories about Colb & how people admired his faith over the years.”

She then concluded the post by citing Psalm 34:18.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” — Psalm 34:18

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