ATLANTA -- With the numbers of injured teammates Dany Heatley and Dan Snyder taped to the backs of their helmets, the Atlanta Thrashers beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a preseason game Wednesday night.
Snyder was still unconscious and in critical condition with a fractured skull at
Atlanta's Grady Hospital, while Heatley was in the same hospital
with a broken jaw and other less serious injuries received in a one-car accident Monday night.
"We were on a mission to win for our two guys," Thrashers
coach Bob Hartley said.
Heatley already had posted a $50,000 bond, set during a hearing involving a prosecutor and Heatley's attorney. Heatley is scheduled to be in traffic court Oct. 10, the day after the Thrashers open the regular season, to face charges of serious injury by vehicle, a felony; reckless driving, driving too fast for conditions and striking a fixed object, all misdemeanors according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Heatley was also charged with driving on the wrong side of the road, for which an additional $200 bond was levied.
"The district attorney is prosecuting the case because of the felony charge, which automatically makes it our jurisdiction," Erik Friedly, spokesman for Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Heatley took a blood-alcohol test, which is standard in serious accidents, but results will not be available for weeks, according to police.
The Thrashers considered canceling Wednesday's game, but decided to play. The team made two announcements -- one before the game and one in the first period -- thanking fans for gifts and cards which had been sent to the team for the players.
"We are humbled and overwhelmed by the support and prayers that we've received from all over, especially from back home," read a statement from Snyder's family. "Dany Heatley and our son, Dan, need strong support and positive energy in order to be able to overcome the difficult challenges that lie ahead.
"The support from the Thrashers family, the doctors and entire staff at Grady Memorial Hospital has been outstanding. Both Dan and Dany are getting the best care possible. These two young men are in need of our prayers."
Heatley's teammates weren't ready to speculate on how the
22-year-old wing, the MVP of the 2003 All-Star Game, will cope with
the inevitable feelings of culpability once he rejoins the team.
"I imagine it's going to be very tough," defenseman Chris
Tamer said. "Initially, you just want the guys to get better
physically. Then I'm sure there's going to be a lot of emotions for
both of them. I can't imagine how tough it's going to be for them
and their families."
Police estimated that Heatley's Ferrari was traveling around 80
mph when he lost control on a curve in a two-lane road. The
high-performance sports car plunged into a wrought iron and brick
wall in front of an apartment complex.
The car was ripped in half. The players were thrown onto the road.
"He has to assume some responsibility for what happened," said Len Tuzman, director of social work at The Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York
City. "His guilt is going to be a major issue for him to deal with. Ultimately, he's going to have to learn to forgive himself. But he may never be able to fully do that."
Heatley, of course, isn't the first athlete to face the ramifications of a fatal accident.
In 1993, Jeff Alm of the NFL's Houston Oilers wrecked on a
highway, killing a close friend who was in the car with him.
Apparently overcome with grief, Alm shot himself to death before
Seven years later, NBA players David Wesley and Bobby Phills
sped away from a Charlotte Hornets practice in their Porsches,
reaching speeds up to 100 mph. Police said they were racing. Phills
lost control and slid into oncoming traffic. Wesley saw his best
friend die in the rearview mirror.
Wesley played on after the wreck, but it took him a while to
"He played the rest of the year with a very pensive look on his
face," his coach, Paul Silas, would say later. "I didn't know if
that look would ever go away.''
Eventually, it did. Wesley averaged a career-high 17.2 points
the following year. Last season, he scored 16.7 for the Hornets.
"The most important thing is you don't want people to make
major decisions about life at a time like this," Tuzman said. "It's much too raw."
Heatley was the NHL's rookie of the year in 2002 and scored a
team-record 41 goals last season. His gap-toothed smile was the
face of the Thrashers, a team that begins the season a week from
Thursday with high hopes of making the playoffs for the first time.
Tuzman said it's important for those around Heatley to "give
him the sense that he continues to have value to many people. Over
time, they're going to forgive him and he has to forgive himself."
Heatley must realize that he didn't intend to injure Snyder,
Tuzman added. It was a mistake of youth, a lesson he will carry
with him for the rest of his life.
"Most 22-year-olds think they're omnipotent," Tuzman said.
"They don't think anything is ever going to happen to them until
they get a little older and realize how fragile things really
Heatley sustained a broken jaw, minor concussion, a contusion on
his lung and a bruised kidney. Team doctors said none of the
injuries are career threatening.
Then there are the legal troubles. The most serious charge -- serious injury by vehicle -- carries a prison sentence of up to 15
years, if convicted. Prosecutors could allow Heatley to plead
guilty to a lesser offense that would remove the possibility of
For now, everyone is focused on Snyder and Heatley making a full
"I'm not worried about the other things," goalie Pasi Nurminen
said. "I just want to see those guys back with us."
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.