📝 by Patrick Williams
One by one last week, tributes to Colby Cave continued from some who knew him best and who mattered most to him across the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.
A brain bleed cut Cave’s life short April 11, 2020, at age 25. Thanks to the NHL and AHL schedules lining up, some of his former clubs could pay those tributes at long last.
On Thursday night in Boston, before the Edmonton Oilers-Boston Bruins contest, Cave’s two former NHL clubs honored his memory. A night later, the Providence Bruins, one of his previous AHL teams, memorialized Cave before their home game with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
On hand for both nights Cave’s wife, Emily, stood proudly to represent him.
In Boston, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron and Edmonton captain Connor McDavid participated in the ceremonial faceoff before a sold-out TD Garden. Bergeron then embraced Emily before McDavid did likewise. As she left the ice, Emily was comforted by Oilers alternate captains Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins before every member of the Boston team hugged Emily from the bench.
A night later, Emily returned to a place where Colby had built deep hockey roots. Undrafted out of the Western Hockey League, Colby first arrived in Providence in April 2015 and quickly carried his reputation as a diligent two-way player and excellent teammate to the pro level. He had back-to-back 13-goal outputs in each of his first two pro seasons in Providence and played a key part of Providence’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017.
To start, the P-Bruins wore a helmet sticker honoring Cave. Then Providence forward Zach Senyshyn, a friend and linemate during their P-Bruins days, represented the club in the ceremonial opening face-off. Opposite Senyshyn stood Logan Day of the Phantoms, one of Cave’s teammates in Bakersfield. Handling the faceoff was Emily, who wore Colby’s Providence jersey.
Senyshyn then saluted Cave with a standout performance, putting up his first pro hat trick and adding an assist for first-star honors in Providence’s spirited 6-3 win.
In a private meeting during the game, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Howson presented Emily with Colby’s game-worn Bakersfield Condors jersey, which had been signed by Colby. He played 44 games with Bakersfield as a member of the Oilers organization in 2019-20, Howson’s final season in the Edmonton front office before taking the AHL post.
Cave skated in 283 regular-season AHL games between Providence and Bakersfield, finishing with 138 points (54 goals, 84 assists). He went on to play 24 more career contests in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Colb played 283 games in the AHL. Tonight, the President and CEO of the AHL, Scott Howson, came personally to give me one of Colb’s last jerseys that he wore… Colb happened to sign it too. 😭💛🖤🧡💙 @TheAHL pic.twitter.com/ahU5DjUaWN
— Emily Cave (@emilyljcave) November 13, 2021
Ryan Mougenel arrived in Providence before the 2018-19 season to serve as an assistant to then-Providence head coach Jay Leach. That season appeared to be a breakthrough season for Cave, who played 20 games with Boston before being claimed on waivers by Edmonton in January 2019. From there he went on to appear in 33 more games with the Oilers.
Cave only spent 15 games with the P-Bruins in 2018-19, but it was enough time for Mougenel to become friendly with Colby. Now the head coach in Providence, Mougenel knew what the game meant to Senyshyn, Cameron Hughes, and Urho Vaakanainen, three P-Bruins remaining from Colby’s final season with the team. And for those Bruins who arrived after Colby’s departure, they certainly have been made aware of his legacy.
“There was a moment for Zach I think was pretty special for him, so I’m happy for everybody,” Mougenel said. “[It was] a special night for Zach with Colby. They were really close friends, and we had a good chat about it [Friday] morning.”
Before that chat, Mougenel had watched the ceremony in Boston some 12 hours earlier.
“I’m not going to lie, it was really hard to watch,” Mougenel admitted. “Colby helped [players like Senyshyn] mature in the game. That’s who Colby was. He was a really special kid. Colby [was] undrafted, works his tail off, gets to the NHL, and somebody I really looked up to because of that. I just really admired him for that.
“I know Colby is looking down probably really happy for his linemate.”
The AHL is currently running an auction of items donated by AHL and NHL clubs, with all proceeds benefiting the Colby Cave Memorial Fund. For more information, visit ahlauthentic.com.
Patrick Williams has been on the American Hockey League beat for nearly two decades for outlets including NHL.com, Sportsnet, TSN, The Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM! Sports. He is currently the co-host of the Around the A Podcast.
Patrick was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for his outstanding coverage of the league in 2016.