What can be said about Tom Cavanagh? Born Thomas Garrett Cavanagh in Warwick, Rhode Island, Tom was born to be a hockey player. His father, Joe, possibly the greatest hockey player to play for the Harvard Crimson Tide. Joe is still a name used around the campus lockerrooms, fields, rink. Tennis, Hockey, nothing was a challenge for Joe Cavanagh.
Tom set foot in his father’s footsteps, playing every game of his college career, the first Tide player ever to play all 139 games. He then was then drafted in 2001 by the San Jose Sharks. He continued to dominate quietly on the ice, racking up 48 goals in 4 years of college. He left to pursue his NHL career, starting in Cleveland, with the Barons (Now Worcester Sharks). He racked up 138 points in 202 games, a record still held by the franchise. But no hockey player wants to be a minor league star. And Cavanagh got a chance to live his NHL dream in 2008-09 when he played 18 games for the Sharks.
He got the call. He left to San Jose, and scored his only NHL goal on Joe Thornton’s/Jeremy Roenick’s line. He also had 2 assists.
While all these “Dreams” were coming true, he lived a nightmare. Tom grew up having emotional problems, often asking his own father “Why does god hate me?”. No ordinary child asks this. Tom later in life was dignosed with depression and schizophrenia.
Tom often stormed out of locker rooms, completely naked. He broke things, yelling. He was mentally getting worse and worse, every year. He was then released on November 10th by the Springfield Falcons, his true lowest point.
On January 6th, Tom’s psycologist called Joe, telling him that Tom missed his appointment. Later, Tom’s girlfriend called saying he missed their date.
On January 6th, his family and girlfriend didn’t know his fate. He took his own fate into his own hands. He climbed out of the baricade of the Providence Mall parking lot, and fell, 3 stories, headfirst into the ground. The first hockey death in 2011, the first of many.
Please. If you see something, TALK.
If you have depression, there IS help.
It gets better. I promise.
My Personal View:
Tom Cavanagh shared more than just my jersey number. (47)
Tom shared my depression. My feelings of being alone. After his suicide, at a time where I was contemplating the same fate, something I'm ashamed of saying, I changed. My life has gone 360 degrees. My life is better. I look at him, and showing his death wasn’t in vain. Every time I step on the ice, I say a quick word for him.
My love for him was there before his death.
On April 3rd, 2008, I went to the Kings Vs. Sharks game. I haven't missed one since 2006 in LA or Anaheim. Tom assisted on Joe Thornton’s 29th season goal along with Jeremy Roenick. I fell in love. He was that underdog, my first “Rookie” I could personally follow, and say “I watched him from the begining.”
On March 28th, 2009, I was in San Jose for the Sharks Vs. Phoenix Coyotes. Tom scored his first goal. His….only…..goal.
The day I heard the news, I broke down. I cried. Hard. I didn’t sleep for three days. “My player” was a victim of his terrible voices in his head.
After a few days, I came out stronger. He became my patron saint, if I were religious. I live my life everyday to the fullest, knowing that I won’t waste my life. I live my life for Tom Cavanagh.
In the next few months, I’ve collected some money, and hope to get a tattoo dedicated to him. A crimson 9, and a teal 47. Between my shoulders, an upside-down rainbow, what his father saw. A smile, on the day of his son’s funeral. An inverted rainbow, that occurs when sunlight goes through ice crystals in the sky on freezing days.
I think about him. Everyday. I live and dedicate my life to Thomas Garrett Cavanagh.