A jersey retirement ceremony is being held by the Richmond Sockeyes to honour 38-year-old Raymond Sawada, who died suddenly while playing recreational hockey earlier this year.
Sawada, a Richmond father of two young daughters, was a local hockey hero who played junior hockey for the Richmond Sockeyes - from 2001 to 2003 - and for the Nanaimo Clippers before attending Cornell University where he continued his hockey career.
His Sockeyes jersey number 27 will be raised to the rafters at Minoru Arena on Nov. 16 during a pre-game ceremony before the Sockeyes play against the Grandview Steelers at 7 p.m.
Retiring a jersey number is a way for a sports team to honour a player who retires or passes away by taking his number out of circulation, meaning no other athlete on the team can wear the number unless given special permission.
Stephen Sawada, Raymond’s twin brother, said his brother made a big impact on the Sockeyes team and the local community.
He described his brother as a “symbol of someone who worked extremely hard” in whatever he did.
“I think this (ceremony) is a nice gesture to honour his legacy,” said Stephen.
“He worked really hard while wearing that jersey … for the team rather than his own glory.
“He was very much a team guy, so it’s nice the Sockeyes are honouring what he gave to the team.”
Raymond’s wife, two daughters and immediate family members will be at Minoru Arena on Thursday for the ceremony.
During Raymond’s time with the Sockeyes, he played 39 games, scored eight goals and had 17 assists.
He was drafted into the NHL in 2004 and played four seasons for the Cornell Big Red men’s team.
Raymond then signed a two-year contract with the Dallas Stars in 2008 and made his NHL debut in 2009 on his 24th birthday.
From 2008 to 2011, Raymond played in 11 NHL games. He then went on to the American Hockey League and played for the Iowa Stars, St. John’s IceCaps and the Manitoba Moose.
In his AHL career, Raymond played 287 games played, scored 47 goals and had 79 assists.
He continued his hockey career in several different hockey leagues including the Colorado Eagles, Tappara in the Finnish Elite League, the Belfast Giants and the Oji Eagles of the Asia Hockey League.
After his hockey career, he was a fire fighter with the Burnaby Fire Department.
-with files from Graeme Wood, Glacier Media
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