ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota honored the late Sergei
Zholtok, who played three seasons for the Wild, with an emotional
pregame program on Saturday night.
Zholtok's 16-year-old son, Edgar, was presented with a framed
jersey his father wore for the Wild from 2001-04 -- when he
collected 110 points over 210 games as a right wing and became one
of the team's leaders and most popular players.
Zholtok died last year at 31 in former teammate Darby
Hendrickson's arms while playing for a team in his native Latvia,
when his heart failed near the end of a game in Belarus during the
NHL lockout. Zholtok had missed seven games in January 2003, while
with the Wild, because of an irregular heartbeat.
Edgar Zholtok wiped away tears, and Wild captain Filip Kuba put
his arm around him. The boy dropped the ceremonial first puck after
a video highlighting Zholtok's life was shown on the scoreboard.
Former Minnesota defenseman Brad Bombardir conducted the
traditional "Let's Play Hockey" chant, encouraging fans to be
loud enough "so Sergei can hear."
Zholtok also played in the NHL for Boston, Ottawa, Montreal and
Edmonton, totaling 111 goals and 147 assists. He finished the
2003-04 in Nashville after a trade that March. The Predators played
the Wild on Saturday night, and both teams wore "SZ" stickers on
their helmets. There was also a display of commemorative Zholtok
memorabilia near one of the gates at Xcel Energy Center.
Zholtok, one of only three Latvians to play in the NHL, 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 his home country -- where he was a
Zholtok is also survived by his wife, Anna, and 5-year-old son,