Zholtok had previous heart problems
RIGA, Latvia -- An autopsy confirmed that NHL player Sergei Zholtok died from heart failure after playing a game this week in Belarus.
Zholtok, 31, a forward for the Nashville Predators, was playing for a club in his native Latvia during the NHL lockout. He was diagnosed previously with an irregular heartbeat, a condition that forced him to miss seven games for the Minnesota Wild in January 2003.
Zholtok left Wednesday's game between Riga 2000 and Dinamo Minsk about five minutes before the end. He collapsed and died in the locker room.
Known as "Zholi" by teammates, Zholtok scored 111 goals, assisted on 147 and drew 166 penalty minutes in 588 NHL games with Boston, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Minnesota and Nashville, where he finished last season after a trade from Minnesota in March.
Zholtok, who had a career-best 26 goals for the Canadiens in 1999-2000, was a member of the Latvian team that won silver at the 1994 world championships. Zholtok, along with goalie Arturs Irbe and defensemen Sandis Ozolinsh and Karlis Skrastins, was among a handful of Latvian players to have long NHL careers.
After leaving a game in January 2003, he was kept in a hospital overnight for observation. He was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and missed seven games. He also missed games twice last season for the Wild because of dizziness and fatigue.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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