Dany Heatley will return to the ice tonight for the Atlanta Thrashers.
The star right wing plans to play for the first time since surviving a car accident in September that killed teammate Dan Snyder and left Heatley with serious injuries.
His scheduled return against St. Louis at home will cap a recovery from two torn knee ligaments and a broken jaw.
"It's nice to help, but at the same time, that has no bearing on whether I was ready to play or I wasn't ready to play," Heatley said. "It's going to be fun to get going in the middle of a playoff run."
Heatley was charged with vehicular homicide after Snyder died from head injuries. Test results showed Heatley consumed a small amount of alcohol before the crash, with his blood alcohol content less than 0.015%, below Georgia's legal limit of 0.08%.
Because Heatley wasn't drunk and Snyder's relatives said they forgave him, prosecutors could decide the crash was an accident, with no need to pursue felony charges, which carry sentences from three to 15 years.
The NHL would like to resume negotiations with the players' union on a new collective bargaining agreement within the next two weeks.
William Daly, the league's chief legal counsel, said Tuesday that he hopes the sides can reconvene at the end of next weekend's All-Star festivities in St. Paul, Minn.
"We have made the players' association aware that we are ready to meet at any time," Daly said. "The more dialogue, the more exchange of information, the better understanding one side has of the other's positions."
Commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Bob Goodenow met in New York last week and attended a game together at Madison Square Garden. That broke a stalemate that existed since an Oct. 1 bargaining session in Toronto.
Washington Capital owner Ted Leonsis apologized to a fan who accused him of grabbing his neck and throwing him to the ground after a game. A Capital spokesman confirmed Tuesday that Leonsis -- who is a vice chairman of America Online -- called Jason Hammer, a 20-year-old season-ticket holder who had taunted the owner. "He's embarrassed. He regrets the incident happened," spokesman Kurt Kehl said. "He reached out to the fan." Hammer told the Washington Post that Leonsis placed his hands on his neck and tossed him down after the Capitals' home loss to Philadelphia on Sunday.... Flyer right wing Tony Amonte could be sidelined for up to two weeks because of a partially torn ligament in his right knee. Amonte injured the medial collateral ligament Sunday night when Washington's Brendan Witt cross-checked Radovan Somik in the back, sending Somik into Amonte's right knee.... The Columbus Blue Jackets traded veteran defenseman Darryl Sydor to the Tampa Bay Lightning for center Alexander Svitov. The deal also involved a swap of 2004 draft picks, with the Blue Jackets picking up a third-round selection and giving up a fourth-round choice.