Losing a Member of the Extended Family
Tuesday October 14th 2008, 11:05 pm
Rangers Brandon Dubinsky comes over and kisses the helmet of Nikolai Zherdev who was sitting alone on the bench before a moment of silence for Rangers prospect Alexi Cherepanov, who died earlier today during a game in Russia at age 19, as the New York Rangers host the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. Photo: ANDREW MILLS/THE STAR-LEDGER

Rangers Brandon Dubinsky comes over and kisses the helmet of Nikolai Zherdev who was sitting alone on the bench before a moment of silence for Rangers prospect Alexi Cherepanov, who died earlier today during a game in Russia at age 19, as the New York Rangers host the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. Photo: ANDREW MILLS/THE STAR-LEDGER

“The bottom line is, we lost a life today,” coach Tom Renney told the Daily News prior to last night’s game. “It’s a sad thing, at that young an age – obviously at any time, but a young fellow like that, with everything in front of him… He’s a Ranger, and I think it’ll have an impact on people.”

Andrew Gross of The Record shared the most complete account of comments made by New York Rangers assistant coach Mike Pelino on Cherepanov. Pelino visited Omsk in September and had the opportunity to watch and interact with the young Ranger prospect.

“When I went over I was really excited after I got to spend a little bit of time with him. First of all, he was very, very engaging as a young man. He was very excited about the opportunity of when it was going to happen for him to get to New York.”

“As far as a player, I had seen him a couple of years ago at the development camp, then to see the improvement he had made, he was bigger, he was more physically mature, he had a real nice change of pace going in on the goaltender. He was very effectively going into the zone. I came back very excited about what I had seen.”

“He said he was really looking forward to the day when he could come play for the New York Rangers. He didn’t know how that would pan out.”

“One of the nicest stories I heard was when he was 12, he left his hometown (Barnaul, Russia) to move to Omsk because he wanted to become a hockey player. I never was concerned he would be able to come to New York and fit right in and become a good player for us.”

“After I saw him this past year, and being on the ice with Jaromir [Jagr], just the way he asserted himself on the ice with his confidence, he was someone who I was really excited about as, ‘Wow, we did get something special here.’ He had things to work on, we felt he had to be a little stronger, he had to be a little more aware defensively. As far as raw talent and an ability to score, he was great.”

“I’d have to say if we were in a position to give him an opportunity (next year) and he was able to take advantage of it, he would have stuck with us. He looked good.”

Stu Hackel of the New York Times hockey blog Slap Shot had the most comprehensive round up of news from both the Russian and North American press last night. Jeff Klein has the follow-up on Slap Shot, including a translation of first-hand report by reporters Andrei Kuznetsov and Alexander Shapiro from Sport-Express. Be warned, his post includes video of Cherepanov collapsed on the Avangard bench and being carried off to the locker room.

Avangard Omsk has released details of a memorial service for Cherepanov, to be held at Omsk Arena on Wednesday at 10:00am. The burial service will follow at 2:00pm.

According to Soviet Sport, the initial autopsy report lists the cause of Cherepanov’s death as “acute heart failure caused by myocardiopathy, mostly likely due to hypertrophy of the cardiac muscle“.

And investigation has been launched into the events surrounding Cherepanov’s death — specifically the lack of emergency services on hand at the arena and the paramedics who responded the call. “There are elements of negligence here,” Russian lawmaker Pavel Krasheninnikov was quoted by ESPN as saying in televised comments.

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1 Comment so far
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    I was thinking all day yesterday, all night last night, and all day today about what this all meant…
    the moment alexei was drafted i jumped off my bad going “woo!!” at my tv. i spent every week until now tracking the progress of this young man’s career as best i could. have you ever met somebody that you were really excited about spending time with? as much as i watched this boy turn into a young man, i truly feel like i lost a friend yesterday. what a tragedy for the world.

    Comment by Amos 10.14.08 @ 7:54 pm



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