September 22, 2009
Almost a year after Alexei Cherepanov's tragic death, the Kontinental Hockey League is finding itself under fire for the questionable treatment of one of its players.
While playing for Dinamo Riga in a game against Spartak Moscow, Martin Kariya(notes), the younger brother of St. Louis Blues forward Paul Kariya(notes), was hit from behind and banged his head on the ice. Reports say that the medical personnel took several minutes to attend to Kariya. The 27-year old Kariya spent the night in a local hospital, was diagnosed with a concussion and is expected to miss four weeks.
The KHL released a statement on Monday that did not discuss any action to be taken against Spartak or anyone in the organization. The press release did touch on one disturbing part of both the Cherepanov and Kariya incidents: The way players are taken off the ice.
From the KHL:
"Kontinental Hockey League officials conducted an investigation into the actions of the on-site medical assistance team and their response to the injury of Dinamo Riga forward Martin Kariya during the game Friday, Sept. 19 (sic). Based upon the results of the investigation by the league, the KHL has decided to have all clubs hold special exercises on working out methods of removal of injured athletes from the playing surface. The KHL has set a strict communication on the procedure and methodology of the exercises and the order of the medical teams in the evacuation of hockey players to all clubs."
We all remember the disturbing video of Cherepanov's lifeless body being carried off the bench after he collapsed. Kariya was carried off the ice in a different manner, not on his teammates shoulders, but on a tarp.
Yes, a tarp.
After the game, Spartak Coach Milosh Rziga talked about how the situation was handled, and pointed out the difference between the hockey facilities in the NHL and KHL:
"The most important thing is everything is fine. Both our doctors and their doctors were on the ice as well as emergency medical personnel who weren't summoned at first. What, are they supposed to jump across the boards? They could only get on the ice where the Zamboni comes on. I think that in this situation, everything was fine."
"When I turned, Kariya was already on the ice and was not moving. I don't understand why the medical staff took so long to get to the ice. At times like this, they should be on the ice immediately after an incident. You never can tell how a fall like this will end. I hope this is a lesson for them and in the future they will learn."
If the death of Cherepanov and the messy aftermath didn't teach every KHL team's medical staff a lesson, what will?