ATLANTA (ESPN.com news services) -- It should be the most emotional game of
Dany Heatley's young career Wednesday night when the Atlanta
Thrashers host the St. Louis Blues.
Heatley will make his season debut after suffering torn
ligaments in his right knee and a broken jaw in a Sept. 29 car accident.
Teammate Dan Snyder was a passenger in Heatley's Ferrari and
died of massive brain injuries six days later at the age of 25.
It's only been four months since that awful night -- enough time,
amazingly, for his right knee to mend from surgery, but hardly long
enough to get over the pain of losing the friend everyone called
That could take a lifetime.
"I just keep remembering the guy," Heatley said Wednesday, a
few hours before his first game back. "He was a great guy, a great teammate. I think about
him every day."
Heatley was activated Wednesday by the
Thrashers. The Thrashers also activated forward Serge Aubin and placed
center Randy Robitaille on injured reserve with a knee injury.
"It means a lot for Dany and obviously it means a lot of us,"
Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said about Heatley's return.
The 6-3 right wing has been skating since Dec. 23 and last
week took part in various shooting and skating drills. Heatley
faces criminal charges, but Snyder's family has asked
prosecutors to drop the charges.
Heatley, who turned 23 on Jan. 21, set team records with 41
goals and 89 points last season. He was the MVP at the 2003
All-Star Game and has two goals and one assist in two career
games against St. Louis.
The Thrashers have suffered consecutive losses following a
three-game unbeaten streak (2-0-1). On Sunday, Jeff Cowan and
All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk tallied in a 3-2 road loss to the New
Jersey Devils. It was the first career short-handed goal for
Kovalchuk, who leads the team with 26 goals and 30 assists.
The Blues are trying to end a season-high three-game losing
streak after being swept in a home-and-home series by the Dallas
Stars. Pavol Demitra and Scott Mellanby scored power-play
goals for the Blues in Saturday's 3-2 home loss.
St. Louis has won five of six all-time meetings with Atlanta.
Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.