Zholtok, 31, survived by wife and two sons

Updated: November 8, 2004, 7:58 PM ET
Associated Press

RIGA, Latvia -- Nashville Predators and former Minnesota Wild center Sergei Zholtok was remembered at a funeral Monday by hundreds of hockey fans, many wearing Latvian national team jerseys with black armbands.

Players and officials also attended the packed service at Riga's historic House of Blackheads to honor perhaps the best forward produced by Latvia.

Known as "Zholi" by teammates, Zholtok died last week at 31 in Belarus. He suffered heart failure about five minutes before the end of a game between Riga 2000, the Latvian team he was playing for during the NHL lockout, and Dinamo Minsk.

He previously was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat that forced him to miss seven games for the Wild in January 2003. He also missed games twice last season for the Wild because of dizziness and fatigue

Zholtok also played in the NHL for Boston, Ottawa, Montreal and Edmonton. He finished last season in Nashville after a trade from Minnesota in March. For his career, he had 111 goals and 147 assists.

He had a career-best 26 goals for the Canadiens in 1999-00 and was a member of the Latvian team that won the silver medal at the 1994 world championships. While many NHL players skip the worlds each spring, Zholtok regularly suited up for Latvia.

He is survived by his wife and two sons.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press