Former NHL hockey player Raymond Sawada has died at the age of 38.
The Richmond native passed away Monday night “while playing the game he loved,” according to a GoFundMe set up to support his family. Sawada leaves behind his wife Nicole, as well as two daughters — nine-year-old Victoria and six-year-old Charlotte.
The community has rallied behind the GoFundMe, raising over $200,000 in less than 24 hours — more than four times the $50,000 goal.
“Ray was such a bright light in the lives he touched,” reads the fundraising page, organized by Brianne Sameshima. “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.”
Sawada played junior hockey for the Nanaimo Clippers in 2003-04, before playing four seasons with Cornell University. He was a second-round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2004, and went on to play eight years of pro hockey, mostly in the AHL. Sawada appeared in 11 games with Dallas and scored his first NHL goal in the 2008-09 season. He also got a chance to play in front of family and friends in a game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena in 2009-10.
Sawada retired from pro hockey in 2015, following two seasons in Europe. He became a firefighter with the City of Burnaby in 2017.
“Heart breaking news,” said former Canucks defenceman and Richmond native Troy Stecher. “Ray was an idol for a lot of Richmond Minor players growing up. Not only was Ray a successful hockey player, he was a community hero and local firefighter. Thoughts and prayers to his family.”
Heart breaking news. Ray was an idol for a lot of Richmond Minor Players growing up. Not only was Ray a successful hockey player, he was a community hero and local firefighter. Thoughts and prayers to his family.https://t.co/T0VIyroTVY
— Troy Stecher (@troystecher) April 12, 2023
It is with heavy hearts we mourn the passing of former Stars player, Raymond Sawada.
Our love goes out to his family, friends, and all the people he impacted in hockey and as a firefighter in his community. 💚 pic.twitter.com/x2vuOinbJ4
— x – Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 12, 2023
Heart broken to learn the passing of former student, @vanhockeyschool coach, and friend Ray Sawada. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. A former NHL’er and current firefighter, Ray passed away playing the game he loved. https://t.co/zwu4jkFO8D pic.twitter.com/Qu4ZkQ8WnG
— Derek Popke (@derek_popke) April 12, 2023
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