Zholtok died from heart failure

NHLer Sergei Zholtok died of heart failure, accoring to medical officials in Latvia.

Nashville Predators forward Sergei Zholtok died from heart failure after he collapsed while playing a game in Belarus, medical officials said Friday.

According to an autopsy performed Thursday in Minsk, Belarus, Zholtok's heart gave out. The 31-year-old was diagnosed with cardiac arrhythmia in 2003.

Zholtok left the game between Riga 2000, the Latvian club he was playing for during the NHL lockout, and Dinamo Minsk about five minutes before it ended on Wednesday night.

He went back to the locker-room where he collapsed and died.

Zholtok, an 11-year NHL veteran, was popular in his homeland for his tireless dedication to the national team. He regularly suited up for Latvia at the IIHF world championship after his NHL seasons were over.

Last year, while playing with the Minnesota Wild, Zholtok missed a couple of games with mysterious health ailments that included dizziness and fatigue. In January 2003, he left a game and was hospitalized overnight for observation.

He was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. After missing seven games, he was cleared to return to the lineup.

Zholtok was a key forward for the Wild during their unexpected playoff run two years ago. He was traded to Nashville late last season.

Drafted 55th overall by Boston in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, Zholtok scored 111 goals and 258 points in 588 career NHL games with the Bruins, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Minnesota and Nashville. with files of Canadian Press