‘He’s a warrior’: Oilers’ Colby Cave fighting for life due to brain bleed

Ken Holland talks with the media about the excitement around the Edmonton Oilers, his thoughts on the pause in the NHL’s season and much more.

EDMONTON — Colby Cave is fighting for his life at a Toronto hospital, a 25-year-old National Hockey League player who has always been the picture of health suddenly in a medically induced coma.

“What do you say? What are the words for this? It’s unbelievable,” said Cave’s Saskatchewan-based agent, Jason Davidson, reached shortly after the Edmonton Oilers announced the forward’s condition Tuesday.

“There is bleeding on the brain. He is in a medically induced coma, and he was headed for the critical care unit,” said Davidson. “The most confusing part for everyone is that you’re talking about a young, healthy athlete. This isn’t supposed to happen to people to like Colby.”

The Oilers said later Tuesday that Cave is out of emergency surgery at Sunnybrook Hospital after doctors removed a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.

After complaining of some headaches, Cave was transported to a hospital in Barrie, Ont., Monday evening, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said. Cave and his wife, Emily, were residing in Barrie closer to her family, riding out the coronavirus and the ensuing NHL stoppage.

From Barrie, Cave was airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, where he was admitted into intensive care.

“He has great medical care,” Holland said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Emily, Colby and the Cave family. We’re just here, hoping and waiting for good news.”

Cave, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Battleford, Sask., is a player who defines the term “Triple A-plus.” He requires no more seasoning at the American Hockey League level, having spent parts of five seasons with Boston’s and Edmonton’s farm teams. Yet, he has struggled to stay among the top-12 forwards on the Oilers.

In the truncated 2019-20 season, he was assigned to AHL Bakersfield four times by the Oilers, and recalled to the NHL roster as many times.

“Scored a huge goal for us in Pittsburgh to help us get a big win there early in the season, when we were scratching and clawing,” noted Holland.

“Colby is a great kid. He’s a battler, a competitor and he’s respectful of people of the game. When we had to tell him to go down to the American League, he was disappointed but he was never down. He took it like a pro, went down there, played hard and we called him back up a few times.

“He’s a true battler.”

That trait, those close to Cave say, will hold him in good stead through this, clearly the biggest fight of his life.

“He’s a warrior, a solider,” Davidson said. “If anyone will come out of this healthy, it will be Colby.”

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