B.C. firefighter and ex-NHL player Ray Sawada dies suddenly at 38

A former NHL player and Richmond resident died suddenly at the age of 38 Monday night (April 10) while playing at a local ice rink.

The young husband and father of two were reportedly playing a casual game when he fell on the ice.

Ray Sawada played for the Dallas Stars and many other professional hockey teams before settling in Burnaby in 2017 to become a firefighter. He kept his love of hockey alive by playing locally and coaching his two young daughters’ Richmond teams.

Sawada left behind his children, nine and six, and his wife Monday night.

“Ray was a bright light in the lives he touched,” read a fundraiser set up for the family. “With Ray’s passion and drive in everything he does, the community around him will go blank.”

The Richmond Ravens, where his daughters play, said Sawada will be remembered for “his big smile, kind heart and dedication.”

“Not only was he a gifted hockey player, but he was also a committed coach who could be seen selflessly passing on his love and passion for the game to every girl with him on the ice,” They wrote on social media. “We will miss Ray beyond words…”

The Richmond Red Horses and Dallas Stars, which Sawada started in hockey, also expressed condolences.

“Our love goes out to his family, friends, and everyone he has impacted in hockey and in his community as a firefighter,” the Dallas Star tweeted.

Sawada was born February 19, 1985 in Richmond. He leaves there on April 10, 2023.

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