Thrashers star needs surgery

Updated: October 5, 2003, 9:16 PM ET
Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Already facing felony charges for a high-speed crash that left a teammate in a coma, Atlanta Thrashers All-Star Dany Heatley learned Friday that he will require knee surgery.

Dany Heatley

An MRI confirmed the seriousness of the injury. Heatley will need surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his right knee.

The Thrashers wouldn't say that Heatley is out for the season, but it's clear he faces a lengthy rehabilitation.

"Anytime you're talking about the knee and you have surgery, it's not good," general manager Don Waddell said during an exhibition game between the Thrashers and the Nashville Predators.

Heatley was injured in a horrific car crash Monday that left teammate Dan Snyder in a coma. Snyder, remained unconscious and in critical condition Friday with a severe brain injury.

Heatley, who scored a team-record 41 goals and was MVP of the All-Star Game last season, also tore the lateral meniscus in his knee. He will undergo surgery in a week to 10 days.

Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said he can wait patiently for Heatley's return, no matter how long the wait.

"We knew there was pain (in the knee)," Hartley said. "I look at the big picture. We have two kids who are alive. Whatever time (Heatley) takes, it doesn't really matter this time."

The Thrashers would only say that Heatley is out indefinitely, but it's clear Waddell is planning for the season without his best player. He traded for Carolina Hurricanes goalie Jani Hurme on Friday with an eye toward trading for help up front.

Atlanta also claimed left wing Serge Aubin from Colorado and left wing Ronald Petrovicky from the New York Rangers in the waiver draft.

Waddell said it's not known if Heatley will miss the entire season.

"Until doctors go in and see the extent of the tear, it's impossible to give an accurate recovery timetable," the GM said.

An MRI on Heatley's left shoulder showed what team officials called a "limited nerve injury" but no injury to the ligaments or rotator cuff. In addition, he will undergo surgery Saturday at St. Joseph's Hospital to repair a broken jaw.

Police say Heatley was driving his sports car about 80 mph on a narrow Atlanta street when he wrecked Monday night. Snyder was a passenger.

The car was ripped in half when it struck a wrought iron and brick wall, throwing the players onto the road.

Heatley faces a felony charge of serious injury by vehicle and three misdemeanor charges. Police are awaiting test results to determine if Heatley was drinking on the night of the wreck.

Snyder underwent surgery for a skull fracture but has not regained consciousness. He is being treated at Grady Hospital.

His parents released a statement with hopeful news Friday night.

"Our son, Dan, remains in critical condition," it said. "The doctors are conducting a lot of measurements on his brain and all levels at this time are in a normal range. His condition seems to improve every day, and we thank you again for your continued support and prayers."

Heatley was the NHL rookie of the year in 2002 and the cornerstone of a young, improving team that hoped to make a run for the playoffs this season. Last season, he was the ninth-leading scorer in the league with 89 points.

By acquiring Hurme, the Thrashers have three potential starting goalies. Pasi Nurminen played well last season and Byron Dafoe is hoping to rebound from a disappointing season.

Waddell said he already has received calls from other teams interested in the Thrashers' goaltending situation.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press