Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Heatley's next recovery begins

Dany Heatley was back on the ice, his physical recovery complete. But he wore a constant reminder of that awful night on a patch above his heart.

No. 37. Dan Snyder's number.

Heatley made an emotional return to the Thrashers on Wednesday night, less than four months after a car wreck killed his teammate and friend.

"Welcome Back Dany," said a large banner unveiled behind one of the goals.

Heatley had several good chances, but failed to score. The Thrashers managed a tie at 1 with the Blues when Jeff Cowan scored with 2:24 left in regulation.

On the bench, Heatley celebrated with his gap-toothed smile, tapping his stick on the boards and patting teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on the helmet.

Like all of his teammates, Heatley wore a patch with Snyder's number on his sweater.

It's only been four months since the wreck _ enough time, amazingly, for Heatley's right knee to mend from surgery, but hardly long enough to get over the pain of losing the friend everyone called "Snydes."

That could take a lifetime.

"I just keep remembering the guy," Heatley said after the morning skate. "He was a great guy, a great teammate. I think about him every day."

Heatley was driving Sept. 29 when his sports car slammed into a wall with Snyder in the passenger seat. Heatley broke his jaw, injured a shoulder and tore ligaments in his knee. Snyder died six days later from massive brain injuries without ever regaining consciousness.

The crowd at Philips Arena welcomed Heatley back with a raucous ovation. Among the signs: "We're With You Dany!"

Less than 30 seconds after the puck dropped, Heatley, in the starting lineup, put a shoulder into Blues defenseman Bryce Salvador along the boards, and there was no doubt he was back.