When the Edmonton Oilers arrived in Edmonton for ‘Return to Play’ camp, there was a noticeable absence. Colby Cave, the hard working two-way center who was in his second season with the club, was absent. Cave passed away in April, suddenly dying at age 25 due to a colloid cyst that was causing pressure on his brain.
The arrival of players at camp also marked the first time, due to COVID-19, that the Oilers were together since Colby’s passing. They’ll wear #12 decals on their helmets throughout the postseason to honor their former teammate and friend, a postseason they have dedicated to him.
They’ll also wear his jersey tomorrow as part of the final day of camp. At 1:00 pm MT, the Oilers will take part in their final scrimmage in preparation for Tuesday’s preseason tilt with the Calgary Flames. The scrimmage will be a way for the club to pay tribute to Cave.
The training camp roster will be split in half, likely with Team Orange and Team White being the designated colors. All players will wear #12 jerseys, and the jerseys will be auctioned off to raise money for the Colby Cave Memorial Fund, per the team.
“We just thought this game would pay respect to him and his family,” head coach Dave Tippett said on Thursday. “I think the players are looking forward to it. They respected everything that Colby brought to our team. They wanna pay their respects.”
Cave impacted the entire Oilers roster during his two-season stint in the organization. Some players got to know him on a different level, including Matt Benning and Kailer Yamamoto.
Benning grew up with Cave in the Boston Bruins’ system, while Yamamoto got to know him quite well while developing in AHL Bakersfield.
“I know him from the Bruins organization and obviously here,” former Bruins prospect and current Oilers defenseman Matt Benning said. “Unbelievable human, we miss him, he’ll be missed in our locker room. We talked as a group that we want to do something special here and he’ll be right there with us.”
Yamamoto, a first-round pick in 2017, found himself starting the 2019-20 season in the AHL. We all know the impact he had in Edmonton from New Year’s Eve on. Prior to that? He was spending his days with Cave in California.
“It’s gonna be a huge honor,” Yamamoto said. “He’s deeply missed. When I was in Bakersfield I was fortunate enough to actually get to know him fairly well. He would come over to our house and hang out with me, Cotter, Bouch (Evan Bouchard) and Benson.
“He would bring over Emily and his dog and he would just be ripping around all over the house,” Yamamoto said with a smile. “Colby would also be getting mad at him (the dog). It’s very sad that he’s gone, he was taken away from us way too short and we’re just praying for their family.”