EDMONTON – That’s what a 23-year-old Connor McDavid unknowingly signed up for when his immense hockey skills led him to become captain of an NHL team.
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy when they ask you to express your feelings about the young Colby Cave, McDavid’s teammate who is in a coma in a Toronto hospital.
“This is devastating news,” said McDavid, as eloquently as one would expect. “Colby is such a strong guy – a good boy from Saskatchewan. He’s as tough as they come, and if anyone wants to get away with it, it’ll be Colby Cave. “
What time is it.
As Canadians, we can find the lead by missing our National Hockey League playoffs, given the circumstances. It stings when you supported an Oilers club that has missed the 12 playoffs in the last 13 seasons, and now they’re good and there are no playoffs. But the fans understand. Social distancing saves lives, while watching a playoff game on a sunny spring bridge only strengthens our existence.
Then suddenly, in the midst of all this, the home team noticed that one of their players – Cave, a marginal guy who has risen and fallen from miners in the past two seasons – is sick. Really sick.
“The Edmonton Oilers player Colby Cave was placed in a medical coma and admitted to the intensive care unit at Sunnybrook Hospital after suffering brain bleeding overnight. We ask that you keep Colby and his wife Emily in your thoughts and prayers during this time. “
The press release landed with a thud on Tuesday.
If hockey doesn’t want to give us games, it shouldn’t be allowed to tell us such news either.
He had had a headache earlier this week, but if Cave was like anybody in these strange times, the last place a guy would want to go is a hospital. Hockey players face pain in their own way anyway, and while I won’t say that I am a close friend of this player, I have gotten to know the young man well in the past few years. He probably wouldn’t be the type to rush to the emergency at a time when so many others needed it.
At a time when the NHL is full of sons of dentists and accountants who can afford the sky-high costs of college and spring hockey, Cave was the rare son of a breeder, a baby of the day after Christmas who skated at off Al and Jennifer’s farm near Battleford, Saskatchewan, will become MVP for two consecutive years in Swift Current and captain of the Western League team for one season.
The news was confirmed on Wednesday: doctors removed a colloidal cyst that was putting pressure on his brain. He would remain in a coma of medical origin, a cruel isolation at a time when it is difficult even for his wife Emily to remain at his bedside.
On Instagram, Emily asked that we “pray for my husband and my best friend”.
“All the fans out there, everyone just needs to keep Colby, his wife Emily and the whole family in their thoughts and prayers,” said McDavid. “I just send them good vibrations. That’s all we can do, we’re all stuck inside. We can just think and pray that it comes out, and pray that the family can also get out of it. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them. “
It’s heartbreaking to read Emily’s Instagram posts, and really, no matter how respectful a husband or respectful person gets. This should not happen to anyone at 25, let alone a polite, respectful and handsome young man who has conscientiously gone back and forth from Bakersfield to Edmonton and again to Bakersfield, without complaint.
A young man who always remembered people’s names and took the time to make up for it when he returned to the Oilers’ locker room. It’s an endangered art, this relationship between player and journalist, where you kibitz everything, not hockey. Like his father’s breeding farm, and having hockey every year relieves him of some of the dirty work.
“Do you have children?” He would ask.
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“When he was told to go down to the American League, he was disappointed but he never went down. He took him like a pro, went there, played hard and we called him back a few times, “Ken Holland told me on Tuesday.
It’s a cliché, and it’s the kind of thing that hockey people tell you when we really don’t have much else: maybe the type of player Cave will help him beat this thing. Perhaps, somewhere in the soul of this fit young player who has never left his NHL career – despite the vast majority of his professional AHL matches so far – this same attitude also wins this battle.
“They’re all good kids,” said an NHL chief, as figures hampered the assessment of talent. And that’s true.
But this one is really a very good boy.
You can’t work that hard for your dream and end it like that, can you?
“It’s devastating,” said McDavid. “Colby is a guy who is so appreciated in our closet. I’m sure he was well liked in all the rooms he was in, he’s such a good guy. There’s not really a way to express what I think about it. It’s devastating.
“You are just praying that he will wake up, that the family will be OK. “