Feb 082004
 
Authors: John Teten

Grab the tissues, find a secluded place – tears are OK,

guys.

The world of sports is often dominated by testosterone-filled

antics worthy of a clip on SportsCenter. The sentimentally-flavored

stories are few and far between. However, the night of Jan. 28 when

Atlanta Thrashers right wing Dany Heatley returned to the ice for

the first time since being charged with vehicular homicide, I felt

the salty drops welling up inside.

Last September, Heatley was seriously injured and teammate Dan

Snyder killed when Heatley crashed his Ferrari into a wall. His

blood-alcohol content was a 0.015, below the legal limit of

0.08.

Surgery in October, to repair his torn right knee, and months of

rehabilitation only pale in comparison to the lifelong burden he

holds. He saw his teammate, his friend, die.

His fellow Thrashers have been supportive and the Snyder family

forgiving, but he has more than hockey on his mind.

“I just think of him all the time,” Heatley told ESPN after his

first game back. “The perfect teammate. That’s what I take most

from him.”

Hockey provides a way for ‘Heater,’ last season’s All-Star MVP,

to move on, to play for something larger than Dany Heatley. For

some unknown reason he is still alive and Snyder is not. As a great

friend and good teammate he can skate, shoot and score and he can

do it for Snyder.

Heatley has been given a burden. A chance not many people in the

public eye get. His return from injury is encouraging and his

remorse is heart-wrenching, but he can inspire so much more within

us. He can arouse passion in people across the country, a passion

that goes beyond a hat trick. A longing that travels inside our

sleeping hearts and awakens our very core. Life is larger than this

moment. There is something more. People live as fragile and

dependent. Death is unexpected, are you ready?

Keep an eye out for tributary 37s, Snyder’s number, and an ear

for Heatley sound bites, but keep the tissues near.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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