ATLANTA – NHL star Dany Heatley (search) was sentenced Friday to three years on probation and ordered to give 150 speeches about the dangers of speeding after pleading guilty to causing a car wreck that killed a teammate.
"The mistake I made that night was speeding," Heatley told Judge Roland Barnes. "This mistake will stay with me the rest of my life."
The most valuable player of the 2003 NHL All-Star game, Heatley was driving his Ferrari convertible when it ran off a curve and hit a brick pillar and an iron fence. Authorities said Heatley was not drunk. Snyder, a passenger, died after several days in a coma.
Prosecutors said Heatley was driving at least 82 mph. Heatley's lawyer said one expert believed the athlete was going 55 mph. The speed limit was 35 mph.
The plea bargain allowed Heatley, a Canadian citizen, to avoid the threat of deportation, and therefore should not affect his ability to play in the NHL. The players have been locked out this season in a dispute with the owners.
Snyder's father and brother took the stand and said they did not want Heatley to go to jail or lose his hockey career.
"As a parent, it's hard to explain how you feel about losing your son. My pride in Dan was immeasurable," Graham Snyder said. "We will all miss him. So how do we move on from here? Forgiveness in our hearts has helped us move on. We forgive because Dany has shown remorse to his family."
Under terms of his probation, Heatley cannot drive except for work, doctor's visits, trips to the grocery store or his speaking engagements. The court will have approval over the kind of car he drives. The car cannot have more than six cylinders and will have a mechanism to prevent it from exceeding 70 mph.