Raymond Sawada, a second-round NHL draft pick in 2004, died suddenly on Monday at just 38 years old. The former Dallas Star player was playing in a recreational hockey league in Richmond, British Columbia, which is just outside of Vancouver. The cause of his sudden passing was a heart attack
Making his passing even more tragic, his sudden death occurred shortly after he celebrated his oldest daughter’s birthday, as the president of the Richmond Sockeyes, the local minor league hockey team on which Sawada played, said: “It was his oldest daughter’s birthday yesterday. He’s celebrating her birthday, then going off to hockey and poor fella doesn’t return home to his family. It’s just devastating and it’s just been really tough on all of us.”
After leaving the NHL in 2016, Sawada joined the Richmond Fire Department in 2017, where he worked until his tragic, sudden passing. His family wrote about his life, career, and death in a GoFundMe donation request page, writing:
It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we share the devastating news of the sudden passing of Ray Sawada. At age 38, Ray passed away on the evening of Monday April 10, 2023, while playing the game he loved. He leaves behind his loving wife, Nicole, his two young and incredibly amazing daughters, Victoria (9) and Charlotte (6), and his supportive, devoted, and dedicated family and friends.
Ray grew up and lived in the City of Richmond. He was a hard-working firefighter for the City of Burnaby. He joined Burnaby Fire in 2017 and has been an integral part of the department where he served with distinction and honor.
Ray was such a bright light in the lives he touched. He enjoyed traveling with Nicole, the girls, and family and friends. He was a talented hockey player and a dedicated coach for his girls. Ray was passionately driven and motivated in everything he did, and the surrounding community will be left with a void.
For the girls and Nicole, losing their dad and husband is going to leave a sad mark on their hearts and make for a long road ahead. From the family, we are truly grateful for the love and support that we have already received. We appreciate every single message and act of kindness. We feel the love. It gives us reassurance that throughout this sad and difficult time, there are so many who love and care for the family.
If you wish to support Nicole as she grieves during this time, while she takes unpaid time off work, to a brighter future for Nicole and the girls. We thank you in advance and feel so fortunate for the love and kindness that people have shared since his passing.
We will honor his life with memories of joy and love and make sure that his bright light continues.
The GoFundMe has so far been a success, raising over 270,000 Canadian dollars, far more than its 50,000 Canadian dollar goal.
Featured image credit: screengrab from the GoFundMe page
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