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 Reporterâ€™s View of Events – A translation of a Sovietsky Sport reporter’s account from the arena on the night of October 13, 2008.
Cherepanovâ€™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.
5 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment