Colby Cave's family returned to North Battleford, Saskatchewan on Monday after the Edmonton Oilers forward died at a Toronto hospital on Saturday morning. On the way back to their hometown, the Cave family drove past countless cars lined on the shoulder of Highway 16.
The gesture was an organized tribute to Cave, who became something of a hometown hero after breaking into the NHL in 2017. The 25-year-old forward before tragically dying on Saturday.
It was a devastating blow to the hockey community, and the residents of North Battleford wanted to do something to honor Cave while letting his family know they were all mourning too. As the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Battleford Fire Department led the Cave family home, people parked their cars on the side of the highway and stood on the road's shoulder holding signs and wearing Cave's jersey.
It was a perfect way for the community to come together to support their own while also practicing appropriate social distancing measures.
In North Battleford, Saskatchewan there are hundreds of cars lined up on the side of Highway 16 from beyond the western outskirts to several km east of the city. They’re paying tribute to hometown hero Colby Cave. The @EdmontonOilers forward died on April 11. @edmontonjournal pic.twitter.com/YYlkhe2uEi— Lisa Johnson (@reportrix) April 13, 2020
Former Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba was among the many who showed up for the tribute.
Cave signed with the Boston Bruins as an undrafted free agent out of the WHL in 2015. He made his debut for Boston in 2017 before being claimed on waivers by the Oilers last January. Cave had four goals and five assists over 67 NHL games with the Bruins and Oilers.
"The National Hockey League family mourns the heartbreaking passing of Colby Cave, whose life and hockey career, though too short, were inspiringly emblematic of the best of our game," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "An earnest and hardworking player, he was admired by his teammates and coaches. More important, he was a warm and generous person who was well-liked by all those fortunate enough to know him."