Nashville Predators forward Sergei Zholtok, playing for the team in his hometown of Riga, Latvia, died on Wednesday from an apparent heart ailment. Zholtok was 31.
He reportedly became ill near the end of a game and died a short while later. During the 2002-03 he was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. At the time, then-coach Jacques Lemaire stated “I don’t think he’s okay.”
Drafted 55th overall by Boston in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Zholtok also played for Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton and Minnesota before Nashville acquired him at the March 2004 trade deadline.
“We are all saddened and shocked to hear of Sergei’s sudden passing,” Nashville general manager David Poile said in a statement released by the club. “He was a hard-working player who was well-liked by his teammates and coaches.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the Zholtok family, his wife, Anna, and his sons, Edgar and Nikita.”
Minnesota GM Doug Risebrough added, “Sergei was a great competitor and a valuable member of our organization for almost three years and will be greatly missed by his teammates and his fans in the hockey world.”
In a statement released by the Senators, team president Roy Mlakar said, “Sergei was the consumate team player. He will be remembered in Ottawa for his sincere involvement in our community.
“Moreover, he was a class human being and family man, who will be remembered as such by the Senators family.”