All about Tage Thompson’s wife, Rachel — Her cancer battle and family

Tage and Rachel Thompson

It’s been a long time coming, but Tage Thompson is finally realizing his potential in the NHL. Following poor performances and injury layoffs, the expectations for Tage Thompson were low at the start of the 2021-22 season. Thompson, playing alongside Jeff Skinner and Alex Turch on the top line, scored 38 goals in what proved to be his breakout season. 

The Buffalo Sabres rewarded him with a seven-year, $50 million contract. Given his recent performances, the deal looks like a bargain. In early December 2022, Thompson scored 4 goals in a sensational first-period showing against the Columbus Blue Jackets, becoming the fourth player in NHL history to achieve that feat. 

Tage and his wife, Rachel Thompson, met by chance at UConn as teenagers

Tage Thompson

Tage and Rachel Thompson met at a Halloween party that coincided with Tage’s 19th birthday. Tage was a star hockey player, and Rachel was on the school’s dance team. The pair hit it off and have been together ever since. 

Distance separated the couple after Tage ended his collegiate career to join the St. Louis Blues. The couple communicated via FaceTime, and Rachel visited him in St. Louis and San Antonio whenever possible. After Rachel graduated in 2019, she joined Tage in Buffalo. 

Rachel and Tage got engaged on 6th June 2020, which she referred to as ‘the best day’ on Instagram. The couple married on 25th July 2021 at Saltwater Farm Vineyard, surrounded by friends and family. 

“Our wedding day was a dream come true,” Rachel captioned her Instagram wedding post. “I couldn’t be happier to finally call you my husband.”

On the couple’s wedding anniversary, Rachel thanked Tage for being the best husband she could ever ask for. “Little late but happy 1 year anniversary to my beautiful wife and baby mamma! Love u,” Tage wrote on Instagram

Tage told The Buffalo News that he relishes returning home to Rachel as she helps him put things into perspective. Thompson said:

“I try to leave hockey at the rink as much as I can, but sometimes it’s so hard for me to do that. It’s my life. … She does a great job helping me kind of drop it and now that we have him, it’s been even better.”

Tage’s father, Brent, a former professional hockey player, told the outlet that he’s happy to see Thompson in a happy relationship. Brent said:

“They truly love each other, and they’re there for each other. The support they give each other is outstanding. To see them when they met as teenagers, and now they’ve got a family, it’s pretty special.”

The couple is ecstatic about raising their son and are looking forward to having more children

Tage and Rachel Thompson

Rachel and Tage welcomed their son, Brooks Nathaniel Thompson, on 6th July 2022. “Welcome to the world baby boy,” Tage wrote on Instagram. “You are so loved by so many. What a beautiful gift from God. Beyond blessed.”

Tage told The Buffalo News that he ‘could not hold a baby to save my life’ before Brooks arrived. However, holding Brooks felt natural. “It’s like I’ve been doing it my whole life,” Tage said. “It’s shown me that I will do anything for him.”

He added: “It’s shown me I’m a way more relaxed parent than I thought I was going to be. Just the idea that you can love something so much, more than anything else in the world, is so cool to learn.”

Tage told NHLPA that the best thing about parenthood is watching his child grow and looking forward to creating memories with Brooks like Tage did with his father. Thompson dreams of having Brooks in the Sabers dressing room to share in the team’s success. 

He was a stick boy when his father was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders. Tage and his brother Tyce helped the staff and hung around the rink. Hopefully, Brooks will inherit the passion for hockey that runs deep in the Thompson family. 

“It’s [parenthood] also given me a greater appreciation for all that my parents have done for me and a better understanding of how much they love me,” Tage told NHLPA

Tage’s contract will keep the family in Buffalo until at least the end of the decade. The stability has prompted the couple to think of having more children. “We can start to imagine what our lives will look like with one more baby,” Rachel said. 

Rachel was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer but is now cancer-free

Rachel initially dismissed the pain in her right leg as the recurrence of an old injury. However, an MRI revealed a mass, which doctors believed was benign. The autopsy showed that Rachel had chondrosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that sometimes occurs in the soft tissue near bones. 

Rachel called Tage to inform him of the diagnosis and her scheduled surgery in Connecticut the following day. Tage was out to dinner with his Sabres teammates in Columbus, Ohio. Tage talked to The Buffalo News about his reaction:

“It was obviously a terrible, terrible thing to hear. Then I had to go back and sit down and eat dinner with the entire team. It was all I could think about that night, the next game and for a while. That’s all I was thinking about. So, it distracts you, but it’s obviously what’s most important.”

Rachel moved to Buffalo in February 2019 on crutches, which made getting to the couple’s apartment on the top floor of a three-story apartment a nightmare. Rachel didn’t have a support system awaiting her in Buffalo – Tage was away a lot, fulfilling NHL duties. 

Tage bought Rachel a 3-month yellow lab puppy named Buff to keep her company. After Rachel’s parents left Buffalo to return to Connecticut, teammates’ partners helped her run errands and take Buff on walks. 

“The girls here were all super helpful and a huge support during that whole recovery time, for sure,” Rachel told The Buffalo News. Rachel’s recovery was tough, but she focused on the bright side. 

“I think the biggest takeaway is how positive she was during her battle,” Tage said. “She was always looking at the silver lining.”

Rachel’s surgery worked – she is now cancer-free. She won’t need further examinations if the summer 2023 scan comes back clean. 

During a game against the Boston Bruins, the captain, Patrice Bergeron, asked Tage about Rachel’s health as the NHL stars waited for a faceoff at center ice. Bergeron was Tage’s father’s teammate with the Providence Bruins and spent a lot of time in the Thompson family home. 

“It’s big,” Tage told The Buffalo News. “Obviously, he didn’t have to say anything. He kind of went out of his way to check on her and ask how she’s doing. It’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s just a genuine guy, cares about other people.”

Tage relied on his wife’s support during a difficult time in his career

Tage and Rachel Thompson

As Rachel fought cancer, Tage struggled in the rink. He wanted to talk to Tage about it but didn’t want to pile extra pressure on her. “I would just hold everything inside and just worry about her and how she’s doing,” Tage said.

“You want to make sure she’s doing OK, but then you don’t want to just kind of bury things down inside that are going to eat you up.”

In November 2019, Tage suffered a dislocated shoulder during a loss to the Blackhawks. He tried to ignore the pain, but deep down, he knew it would be a long-term injury layoff. “Frustration sets in,” Tage said. 

Regardless, he tried conservative treatment – it didn’t work. Thompson’s surgery ended his season. Tage had a long physical battle ahead of him, but the biggest hindrance to a triumphant return lay in his head. Thankfully, Rachel prevented Tage’s mental health from spiraling. Rachel said:

“It’s tricky because you want what’s best for him. I’ve seen all the work he puts in and then to have the shoulder year was really tough because you got your chance back in Buffalo and obviously, the first game you got hurt. That was another hard year.”

Tage recovered and rejoined the squad, but then-coach Ralph Krueger demoted him from the first team. Thompson kept working, and when Don Granato was promoted to head coach, Tage received his opportunity to shine. Granato moved Tage to center, unleashing his prodigious potential. 

After a difficult few years, things started looking up for Tage: he was finally performing on the rink, he’d wed his college sweetheart, and the couple was expecting their first child. He told The Buffalo News:

“I think when you go through adversity or all these challenges, especially at a young age, it benefits you. You’re going to come out of it stronger. That way, when you’ve faced more challenges down the road, it doesn’t seem as difficult as it would have been.”