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 honour.
Ray was such a bright light in the lives he touched. He enjoyed travelling 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 was a star with the junior Sockeyes 20 years ago. Sawada spent the majority of his eight-year pro career in the American Hockey League and played 11 games with the NHL Dallas Stars. He graduated from the Sockeyes to the Junior A Nanaimo Clippers of the B.C. Hockey League and then went on to play four seasons at Cornell University. Sawada was drafted by Dallas in the second round of the 2004 NHL entry draft.
Paterson said Sawada was a great guy who gave back to hockey by coaching his daughters and by staying involved with the Sockeye alumni, Richmond Ravens, and community.
“About five weeks ago, we invited him to come and speak to our players and give a little bit of a motivational speech,” said Paterson. “My takeaway will always be to remember his sincere, impactful words to the players in our dressing room.”
Paterson said the Sockeyes will be retiring Sawada’s jersey next season.