RIGA, Latvia -- Nashville Predators and former Minnesota Wild center Sergei Zholtok was remembered at a funeral Monday by hundreds of hockey fans, many wearing Latvian national team jerseys with black armbands.
Players and officials also attended the packed service at Riga's historic House of Blackheads to honor perhaps the best forward
produced by Latvia.
Known as "Zholi" by teammates, Zholtok died last week at 31 in Belarus. He suffered heart failure about five minutes before the end of a game between
Riga 2000, the Latvian team he was playing for during the NHL lockout, and Dinamo Minsk.
He previously was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat that
forced him to miss seven games for the Wild in January 2003. He also missed games twice last season for the Wild because of dizziness and fatigue
Zholtok also played in the NHL for Boston, Ottawa, Montreal and
Edmonton. He finished last season in Nashville after a trade from
Minnesota in March. For his career, he had 111 goals and 147 assists.
He 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 Latvia.
He is survived by his wife and two sons.