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Report: Former Avalanche winger Marek Svatos died of drug overdose

Marek Svatos had traces of codeine, morphine and an anti-anxiety medication in his blood when he died in November. The 34-year-old played 344 games in the NHL, almost all of which came with the Avalanche.

According to the Douglas County Coroner’s Office in Colorado, former Avalanche winger Marek Svatos died of a drug overdose.

Svatos, 34, shockingly passed away on Nov. 5, and in a coroner’s report released Monday, it was said that traces of codeine, morphine and Xanax, a prescription anti-anxiety medication, were found in his blood. The Denver Post, which first reported the coroner’s report, added that Svatos had a history of heroin use and had previously been in rehab.

The Denver Post also reported that Svatos was dealing with “suspected depression, prior suicidal ideation, and ‘recent life stressors.’ ”

Svatos was a member of the Colorado Avalanche for several seasons and a key contributor to the club during the early part of his time in the NHL, but his career was derailed by a number of injuries, forcing him to retire from the game by the end of the 2013-14 campaign. All but 28 of his 344 NHL games came as a member of the Avalanche, and he scored 96 goals and 164 points in his six seasons in Colorado.

The best season of Svatos’ career came during his rookie campaign in 2005-06. The then-freshman Svatos netted 32 goals and 50 points and was a frontrunner for the Calder Trophy, and, were it not for injury limiting him to 61 games, he may have finished the season ahead of Sidney Crosby for second in rookie goals. Crosby finished with 39, and Alex Ovechkin, the Calder winner, led all rookies with 52 goals and 106 points.

Svatos’ career eventually took him to the KHL in 2010-11, and he attempted an NHL comeback with the St. Louis Blues, which led to a waiver claim by the Nashville Predators and, later, a stint with the Ottawa Senators. He couldn’t find a fit, however. He did not play the following year, and finished his career with one nine-game season in the KHL and another 26-game campaign in the top Slovakian league with his hometown club, HC Kosice.

Following his death, Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, a teammate of Svatos’ for four full seasons at the start of his career, said Svatos was a great teammate and lamented his death at such a young age.

“He was a great player with a lot of skill, and a lot of fun to be around,” Sakic said, according to the Denver Post’s Terry Frei. “He loved the game of hockey, loved to be around it, loved to have fun. He was quiet, but had a great sense of humor.”

Svatos is survived by his wife and two young sons.

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