Thrashers star on probation but will play in Kazan

Updated: February 10, 2005, 4:25 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Dany Heatley signed with a Russian hockey team Thursday, less than a week after pleading guilty to charges in the 2003 death of Atlanta Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder and being sentenced to three years' probation.

Heatley, MVP of the 2003 NHL All-Star Game, will join Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk with AK Bars Kazan, which has signed several NHL players during the league's lockout. The team is based in the central Russian city of Kazan, about 450 miles east of Moscow.

Heatley pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree vehicular homicide, driving too fast for conditions, failure to maintain a lane and speeding for the Sept. 29, 2003, crash in Atlanta.

In exchange for his plea, the only felony charge -- first-degree vehicular homicide -- was dropped, as was a charge of reckless driving. In addition to probation, Heatley was ordered to give 150 public speeches about the dangers of speeding.

He initially played with a Swiss club during the lockout. However, Heatley was injured Nov. 6 and needed surgery for a broken orbital bone after being struck in the left eye with a puck. In 10 games with SC Bern, he had seven goals and eight assists.

Heatley, who was born in Germany, was selected by the Thrashers second overall in the 2000 NHL entry draft. He was rookie of the year in the 2001-02 season.

According to the International Ice Hockey Federation, more than 340 NHL players have signed with European clubs, although some have returned to North America.

The lockout reached its 148th day Thursday, and this weekend has been set as a deadline for coming to an agreement to save the NHL season.

Other NHL players who signed with AK Bars this season are the the Rangers' Darius Kasparaitis, Anaheim's Ruslan Salei, Columbus' Fred Brathwaite and Pittsburgh's Aleksey Morozov.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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