Though no definitive report on the incident available as of yet, various sources across the net are reporting that in last night’s Avangard Omsk / Chekhov Vityaz game, Cherepanov and a teammate were making a line change when they smashed into one another. TSN.ca is reporting that Omsk's head coach, Wayne Fleming, said "The Siberian Express" (Cherepanov's nickname), "collapsed on the bench during the third period of the game."
TSN is also reporting from sources in Russia, "that the ambulance that is normally at all games had already departed and had to be called back." It's also not clear "as to whether defibrillators at the arena were in good working order."
This tragedy affects not only the NY Rangers organization, including the Hartford Wolf Pack, or even hockey in general, it affects all of us. This loss is a reminder that life is such a precious thing and should never to be taken for granted. As a parent of two very young children myself, my heart goes out to Cherepanov's parents and family who must be absolutely devastated. We offer our deepest sympathies.
On a more personal note, when Jess Rubinstein of Prospect Park and I covered the NHL draft for Blueshirt Bulletin in 2007, we were right there in the arena when the Russian youngster was selected.
I vividly remember greeting him as he walked to the podium to answer the media's questions. I remember being impressed by how "strong" he seemed to be; not in terms of him possibly bench pressing a Buick, but more in terms of his mental toughness and the excitement that was on his face. In fact, I took that picture of his great smile from the podium that Blueshirt Bulletin used to announce his arrival to NY. As much of a thrill as it was for me to be a part of the draft from the inside, that experience will forever be a reminder of what could have been and never got the chance to be.
I now have an even deeper appreciation for every moment that I have with my own children.
Before I share the official release from the Rangers organization on the passing of Alexi Cherepanov, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to all of those people who knew him, who loved him and who were fans of his...which I unashamedly admit to have been. We are all at a loss.
I've carried in my wallet since the eighth grade a quote that sums up my views on life and death and as corny or "unprofessional" as it might be to share it with you, I hope in some way that it eases the pain of this incredible tragedy.
In his "Meditation XVII," the great English poet John Donne once wrote:
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Here is the Rangers release:
New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather regretfully announced today that forward Alexei Cherepanov passed away during a game in Russia on Monday evening. Cherepanov was 19 years old.
"We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei," said Sather. "On behalf of the New York Rangers organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family. Alexei was an intelligent, energetic young man, with tremendous talent and an extremely bright future."
Cherepanov appeared in 14 games with Avangard Omsk of the Continental Hockey League (KHL) this season, registering seven goals and five assists for 12 points. He ranked second on the team in goals (seven) and fourth in points (12). He also ranked third on the team with a 24.1% shooting percentage.
The 6-1, 187-pounder appeared in 106 career Russian Super League (RSL)/KHL matches with Avangard Omsk, collecting 40 goals and 29 assists for 69 points, along with 61 penalty minutes. Last season, Cherepanov established a career-high in assists (13) while finishing fourth on the club in points (28). In 2006-07, he set the RSL record for most goals by a rookie (18), eclipsing Pavel Bure’s mark (17) set in 1988-89 with the Red Army (CSKA Moscow). With 29 points in his first season with Omsk, Cherepanov recorded more points than Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin and Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk each tallied in their first RSL season.
Internationally, Cherepanov represented Team Russia in several elite tournaments. Most recently, he helped lead Russia to a Bronze Medal in the 2008 U-20 World Junior Championships, tallying three goals and three assists for six points and a plus-three rating in six games. In 2007,
Cherepanov earned Top Forward honors by the Directorate and was selected to the All-Tournament Team at the 2007 U-20 World Junior Championships, where he led all players in scoring with eight points (five goals and three assists) in six games and helped Team Russia capture a Silver Medal.
The Barnaul, Russia native was originally the Rangers’ first round choice, 17th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
On his blog, Sam Weinman speaks with Cherepanov's agent, Jay Grossman.
Here is the TSN report:
A nice tribute to a fallen young man: