For all those who hasn't already heard the heart breaking news, Alexei Cherepanov the talented Russian prospect of the New York Rangers passed away Monday evening during a KHL game between his club Avangard OMSK and Vityaz Chekhov at the young age of 19. From what is understood Alexei collapsed on bench where he then was carried by teammate Jaromir Jagr and trainers to a medical station where they then attempted to use the defibrillator on him which wasn't working at the time. He then was rushed to where the ambulance should have been but it apparently left the game early and took over 20 minutes to get back and to bring him to the hospital.
It saddens me deeply especially because I was in the process of writing an article on how the KHL is really taking big steps to becoming a truly equal league to the NHL on Monday night. I'm shocked to hear the blatant negligence on behalf of both the league and the paramedics. Enough with that though because I'd really like to tribute Alexei Cherepanov from all his accomplishments and for being truly an exciting player to watch.
Alexei Cherepanov was born on January 15th 1989 in Barnaul Russia. The "Siberian Express" as he was nicknamed by his teammates and fans first broke through at the age of 15 for Avangard 2 the farm team of Avangard OMSK. That season he embarassed the competition by putting up 61pts in only 28 games. He was instantly put on the map and was recalled to the Russian Super League in 2006. He then broke the Russian Super League record for most goals scored by a rookie with 18 goals which believe it or not was set by NHL superstar Pavel Bure. In 2007 the spotlights were on him and he continued to shine in not only the Under 18 championships where he won gold, the World Juniors where he received a silver medal and also in his first full RSL season. Many scouts referred to him as the best player outside the NHL and he was said to be the best offensive player in the 2007 NHL entry draft. He was ranked in the top 6 all season but with no transfer agreement between the NHL and the RSL he slipped to 17th and was a huge steal for the New York Rangers. In the 2008 season Alexei was off to an impressive start with 13 points in 15 games with 8 goals on the season.
Alexei Cherepanov touched many people in his short life, including many coaches in a short period of time. Rangers coach Tom Renney was seen wiping tears from his eyes at the ceremony held by the New York Rangers when they learned about this horrific incident. Jaromir Jagr was said to have been in contact with the Rangers staff and consistently informed Glen Sather that not only was Alexei like a younger brother to him he thought the youngster had tremendous talent and thought he was one day going to be a real star in the NHL. Despite Alexei's cocky image portrayed on the ice, it was in fact self-confidence in his abilities not cockiness. I watched many Avangard games last season and Alexei was a lot like Pavel Bure but had a way better defensive game. I was in awe every time I watched him with the puck. I remember watching the draft and screaming at the TV and my buddies wondering when someone would take a "risk" on drafting him although it was hardly the case. He had a tremendous upside and the game will definitely be hurting because of it. What if the KHL had better medical staff? What if the paramedics had been there when they were supposed to? What if Alexei had played in the NHL? What if he could have been one the games greats? For all these "what ifs" there is something we do know and that is Alexei Cherepanov was robbed of his life by incompetence and poor planning. We also not only was Alexei a great human being but a tremendous hockey player who will be missed across the globe by many people on and off the ice and we will forever remember him...
January 15, 1989 – October 13, 2008
For Alexei's full stats please check out Hockey Database or TSN