ATLANTA – Atlanta Thrashers star Dany Heatley (search) might return to the ice as good as ever, and his team could still make the playoffs for the first time.
None of that matters right now.
Heatley was charged Tuesday with reckless driving after his sports car swerved off a road and careened into a wall at about 80 mph, breaking his jaw and critically injuring teammate Dan Snyder (search).
Snyder, a backup center, underwent a two-hour surgery for a skull fracture. Heatley, the MVP of the 2003 All-Star game, was hospitalized in stable condition.
"Our focus is on our two guys," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley (search) said. "We're praying about their health, to overcome this tragedy."
At a news conference at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, the neurosurgeon who operated on Snyder said he was still unconscious but that there wasn't any bleeding into the brain.
"It'll be a few days before we know we can even tell a prognosis," Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. "The underlying brain actually looked pretty good."
Heatley also has a minor concussion, a contusion on his lung and a bruised kidney, according to the team's physician, Dr. Scott Gillogly. None of the injuries appeared to be career threatening, Gillogly said.
Heatley lost control of his 2002 Ferrari 360 Modena on a curve on a two-lane road Monday night in Atlanta, police said. The vehicle crossed into the other lane, left the road and struck a wrought iron and brick wall in front of an apartment complex. The car was ripped in half and the players were thrown onto the road.
Heatley also was charged with serious injury by vehicle — a felony — and three misdemeanors, police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Iosty said.
"Our preliminary reports indicated speed may have been a factor," he said.
Officers estimated the car was traveling about 80 mph. Heatley took a blood-alcohol test, but results will not be available for weeks, police said.
Heatley, 22, and Snyder, 25, had been at an event for season- ticket holders at Philips Arena.
The Thrashers canceled practice Tuesday and were considering canceling Wednesday night's exhibition against Florida. Their season opens a week from Thursday.
"Right now, our thoughts and prayers are just with the two (players) and their families," Hartley said. "We're a big family. ... When you face adversity or tragedy like we are now, you get even closer."
Heatley, the NHL rookie of the year in 2001-02, led Atlanta in scoring last season with a team-record 41 goals and 48 assists, and is the Thrashers' career scoring leader with 155 points.
The former University of Wisconsin player wowed a national audience earlier this year when he scored four goals in the All-Star game.
Before the start of training camp, Heatley traded in his long curls for closely cropped hair, and he seemed to embrace his role as a team leader. A skilled scorer, Heatley — 6-foot-3, 215 pounds with a gap-tooth smile — also is known for his toughness.
He and Ilya Kovalchuck are the cornerstones of a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs in its first four seasons but has plenty of young talent.
Hartley and team president Stan Kasten would not discuss how Heatley's injuries or charges against him might affect his role with the team.
"Our focus is on our two guys," Hartley said. "We're praying about their health, to overcome this tragedy."
Kasten spoke with Heatley when the players arrived at the hospital.
"His first concern was about Danny Snyder," Kasten said.
Snyder, a center who scored 10 goals and added four assists in 36 games for Atlanta last season, had surgery on his ankle in September before the start of training camp. He was expected to start the season on the injured list.
Snyder signed with the Thrashers as a free agent in 1999 after playing four seasons of junior hockey for Owen Sound in the Ontario Hockey League.
He spent most of his first three professional seasons in the minor leagues, helping Orlando win the International Hockey League title in 2000-01 and playing on the Chicago Wolves' American Hockey League championship team in 2001-02. He also played 35 games for Chicago last season, scoring 11 goals and adding 12 assists.