Ottawa Senators team captain Erik Karlsson and wife Melinda Karlsson are mourning the loss of their unborn son, their first child, weeks before she was set to give birth.
The NHL star had previously said the baby was due in mid-April, around the start of the NHL playoffs, CBC News reported.
"The collective thoughts and prayers of the Ottawa Senators organization, the city of Ottawa and entire hockey community rest with Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son," the Ottawa Senators said in a statement posted online on Tuesday, after Erik, 27, sat out Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers. "We ask that you respect the family's wishes for privacy during the grieving process."
"Everybody is heartbroken, it's awful," head coach Guy Boucher said, according to CBC News. "We definitely feel for Erik and his wife and his family. It's been a tough year but this is a real personal, devastating blow to them. We feel for them and Erik is going to take the time he needs to come back and once he does we'll do our best to support him. It's definitely a sad day."
Erik and Melinda wed in 2017. He announced her pregnancy in November, posting on Instagram a photo of the two embracing, with her holding a sonogram of their unborn child. He wrote, "The most exciting news we have ever received arrived earlier this year. Can't wait to meet you."
In December, Erik revealed to fans that they were expecting a boy by posting a hockey-themed gender-reveal video.
On January 1, Erik shared a photo of him and Melinda walking together, writing, "2017 was the last year it was just the 2 of us. Can't wait for our new chapter in life."
Last month, Erik posted a photo of him standing with Melinda and putting his hand over her bump, writing, "Just me and my little family.:) #dadhat."
Following the news of the family's loss, the Los Angeles Kings and the NHL Players Association also offered public condolences.
"The players and staff of the NHLPA extend their condolences to Erik and Melinda Karlsson following the loss of their son," the NHL Players' Association said in a statement on Twitter.