Remembering Alexei Cherepanov one year after his death
Tuesday October 13th 2009, 1:33 am
Photo: NY Post

Photo: NY Post

It was one year ago today that Russia lost one of its most promising young hockey stars and the New York Rangers lost their brightest prospect.  A year since Alexei Cherepanov’s heart stopped beating as the final minutes ticked off the clock during the third period of a game between his team, Avangard Omsk, and Chekhov Vityaz on October 13, 2008.

Three hundred and sixty five days have passed, and still no one has been found criminally responsible for the shoddy medical treatment he received at the arena in Chekhov.  No one has been found guilty of providing him with the banned substance prosecutors say was being used to treat the heart condition that killed him.  No one has been made to answer for why a 19-year old boy suffering from a potentially fatal heart condition was allowed to play professional hockey.

In the year since his death Alexei’s mother, Margarita Cherepanova, has made it her life’s work to memorialize her only son and ensure that those responsible for his death are brought to justice.  In August, she succeeded in convincing the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Omsk to overturn their ruling that declared Cherepanov’s death an accident and reopen their inquiry into his death.  The results of their new investigation are expected sometime this month, but given the level of corruption in Russian regional government, there’s little reason to believe the outcome will be any different this time around.

In the meantime, Cherepanova has been overseeing the construction of a new arena in the family’s home town of Barnaul, which will be named in her son’s memory.  The rink is being constructed with the money the family received from Avangard as compensation for his death: two years’ salary, or roughly 15 million roubles (slightly more than $500,000).

“I worked as a teacher and never had this kind of money,” Cherepanova told Sovietsky Sport.  “And when I received such a sum, I didn’t know what to do with it.  Many suggested that I live on the money myself.  But I understood that it wasn’t earned by me, but by my son.  I would like to immortalize Lesha’s memory.  And we always dreamed of an arena, since renting ice in Barnaul is very expensive.  It seems to me that an arena is the best thing I could do for my son…”

Cherepanova has also created a charitable foundation in her son’s name which will help help organize youth hockey tournaments, and fund equipment for aspiring young players.

In Cherepanov’s adopted city of Omsk, the arena will be open throughout the day on Tuesday so that fans can visit the museum that has been dedicated to him in the building’s foyer.  Avangard’s morning practice will also be open to the public, and following the workout, the entire team will visit Cherepanov’s grave site and attend a church service in his memory.  Later in the evening, a candlelight vigil will be held for fans and friends outside the arena.

***

For those who wish to take a moment to remember a talented young hockey player who always had a smile on his face, I leave you with some of the stories that were posted here a year ago:

The Siberian Express 1989-2008 – A translation of Cherepanov’s first and last post in a blog he had started writing for Komsomolskaya Pravda.

A Reporter’s View of Events – A translation of a Sovietsky Sport reporter’s account from the arena on the night of October 13, 2008.

Cherepanov’s Last Goal – Video of the young forward’s final goal, scored in the first period of the game during which he died.

Tears… – A translation of Championat.ru’s account of Cherepanov’s funeral service.

Reaction, Remembrance and Response – A round-up of the events that transpired in the week following his death, and reaction from those who knew him.

Avangard Omsk Earn a Solemn Victory – Avangard returns to the ice a little over a week after Cherepanov’s death and his number “7″ is raised to the rafters of Omsk Arena.

A Candid Conversation About Life and Death with Jaromir Jagr – A translation of Jaromir Jagr’s first in-depth interview following his teammate Cherepanov’s death.

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

    It doesn’t feel like a year ago, much more like yesterday. Still unbelievable that he is gone, but it is wonderful to hear what his mother is doing.

    Thanks you for this.

    Comment by Kels 10.13.09 @ 8:01 am

    you know, just last week i was thinking, yes this rangers team is good, but with alexei it would have been something amazing, because he was amazing. when he died i took it really hard for some reason… i don’t think i’d ever experienced the death of a young athelete who was part of an organization that i love so dearly… and having followed his career so closely both on my own and with your amazing help, it felt almost as if i had lost a brother that day. i cried, and it only got worse as your excellent coverage of the tragedy expanded. the tribute videos, the huge pile of roses at the cemetary… mike pelino talking about how the only jersey he had hanging in his apartment was his rangers jersey… i was seriously depressed for a number of weeks following this tragic event… this was someone that i could not wait to see bring the crowd to their feet. it’s a shame that he was never to make new york and all rangers fans smile the way we all knew he would.
    you know, on the NHL 09 video game cherepanov appeared on the omsk roster, and i realized i could trade him to the rangers and play a type of game mode where i only controlled him throughout the course of a season. i did this two days before he passed away, and i couldn’t get over it. usually i sell outdated copies of these games, but i’m holding on to this one so that i never let myself forget the memory of this special child that was taken from the world unfairly. thank you laurie for commemorating his memory on this first anniversary.

    Comment by Amos 10.13.09 @ 8:40 am

    Thank you, Laurie. This helped me to re-live that day and week again. Everyone needs it from time to time to keep things in perspective. A lot of respect for his family.

    RIP Alexei.

    Comment by Kovazub94 10.13.09 @ 9:41 am

    Anybody have NHL10 for PS3 ??? Im getting a league started with NYR fans from another blog called Rangers Report. It’s where the cool people hang out, anyway if you wanna join, email me. My email is henrikorr@aol.com

    We’re gonna have a tournament for who gets NYR, so far only 8 people are in, so we need some more people. This message is brought to you by the hotness that is Megan Fox.

    R.I.P. Cherry

    Comment by ORR !! What Is It Good For ?!?! 10.13.09 @ 3:47 pm

    It still makes me cry every time it’s brought up. Today will always be the saddest day in ranger history.

    Comment by Alan 10.13.09 @ 5:37 pm



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