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Some believe emotion has no place in sports. Some believe it is a distraction and will result in failure and mistake. But emotion is perhaps the greatest aspect of an athlete and a sports fan. It gives people the negative ability to bicker with complete strangers over a team, but it also gives a community the ability to become unified. On April 11, 2020, Edmonton Oilers forward Colby Cave passed away. Cave was undrafted, but found his way to the NHL with heart, determination, and passion. It was the hockey community that came together to spread love and mourn a fellow member.
Cave signed an entry level contract for the Boston Bruins in 2015. He played for the Providence Bruins most of his career, but was able to appear for Boston 23 times, netting his first NHL goal with them. He then played for the Edmonton Oilers and the Bakersfield Condors, scoring 3 more NHL goals and 11 AHL goals. Cave was respected and admired by all those he played with and against. On the morning of his death, the hockey community unified to make sure his name was heard around the world.
Players around the league posted on Twitter and Instagram. Many Bruins posted the photo of his first NHL goal, noting how special of a person he was.
Hockey fans everywhere sent their condolences through social media as well.
When the hockey community logged onto their social media this morning, it was a different experience than most days. Rather than immediately disputing, sharing statistics and opinions, or tweeting their daily ‘I miss sports!’, they became one through the common loss of a member within the community. While the emotion on April 11th was not joyful during this already difficult time, it was the driving factor for the unification of a large group of people who sometimes struggle to agree.
Emotion creates memories in sports. It is when T.J Oshie cried after winning the Stanley Cup because his father got to witness it. It is when the entirety of TD Garden sang the Star Spangled Banner after the Boston Marathon was bombed. It is a first NHL goal. It is a last game. It is when the hockey community loses one of their own. It is everywhere. It will always be there. Emotion drives dreams, and being in the NHL is any hockey player’s dream. Colby Cave had that dream, and in fulfilling it he created memories through emotion. He created friendships, he created fans. He made the hockey community even stronger by simply being in it. Though he is gone, he will never, ever be forgotten.