October 13, 2008
WARNING: This video of New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov unconscious on the Avangard Omsk bench is stunning, disturbing and, when team officials carry Cherepanov away without a stretcher, rather repulsive. Please understand that before viewing:
As we cautioned when the story broke, the distance between North American news sources and this story, not to mention the language barrier inherent in covering the KHL, made the details speculative and erratic.
Two sources initially reported that Cherepanov had collided with Jaromir Jagr on the ice, and that it may have been the catalyst for his eventual tragedy. That angle was picked up by general sports sites like Deadspin and Sports by Brooks, and hockey sites like NHL FanHouse.
Hours later, new reporting on the incident has indicated that there was no collision with Jagr, according to Stu Hackel and Jeff Z. Klein of the New York Times' Slap Shot blog, via Russia's Sport-Express.
Along with Slap Shot's superb rundown of Russian news sources, Larry Brooks of the New York Post also presented a brief timeline of Cherepanov's final moments; from the game against Vityav Chekhov to the hospital:
Cherepanov, who had scored a goal in the game, collapsed while sitting beside former Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr after returning to the bench following what had been a routine shift with No. 68.
The ambulance that had been stationed at the rink had left the building before the game's conclusion. Though reports from Russia vary, if not conflict, it is believed that doctors were able to temporarily revive Cherepanov during a 45-minute wait for an ambulance to return to the rink.
Jay Grossman, Cherepanov's agent, said he had been told doctors were able to detect brain activity upon reaching a hospital. The young man, however, soon passed away.
Grossman and Omsk coach Wayne Fleming have been the primary sources for much of the North American reaction to this story, like on TSN. Newsday's Steve Steve Zipay relayed word tonight from Jagr himself:
Jaromir Jagr and Alexei Cherepanov had just finished a shift in Omsk on Monday night, had a 2 on 1 and didn't score and were talking on the bench when the 19-year-old collapsed, according to Rangers executive John Rosasco.
Jagr said the doctors were good and that there didn't appear to be an issue with the medical treatment, except for the ambulance's late arrival, Rosasco said.
The narrative of Cherepanov's tragedy is beginning to take shape thanks to them and others, but clearly much detail has yet to firmly established as fact. There is consensus that he died of cardiac arrest; its cause doesn't at the moment appear to be an on-ice incident, but its catalyst clearly remains a mystery.
Meanwhile, tributes and Cherepanov news continues to spread across the Web:
• YouTube's Jefflered claims to have the Russian prospect's final shift in the KHL captured.
• Rangers Rants has more on what would have been Cherepanov's future in the NHL.
• Avangard Omsk has given a statement on his death.
• Finally, HLOG has a touching tribute to Cherepanov.