The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

46° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Tragedy Strikes Ranger’s Prospect

    On June 23, 2007, the top ranked amateur European hockey player, Alexei Cherepanov, began his journey towards a National Hockey League career. Touted as the next great Russian phenom, Cherepanov was expected to go high in the draft.

    Instead of being one of the top picks, Cherepanov dropped all the way into the lap of the New York Rangers at #17.

    Teams worried Cherepanov would be stuck in Russia. The NHL had a transfer agreement with other nations to allow its brightest young stars to come play on hockey’s biggest stage. But Russia relented.

    But the New York Rangers, on America’s biggest stage, in America’s biggest market, gambled that the young Russian would find his way to “The World’s Greatest Arena,” Madison Square Garden, to eventually replace aging superstar Jaromir Jagr, who had just returned the Rangers to respectability.

    Ironically, Cherepanov would go onto become Jagr’s teammate. Unfortunately, he would never make it out of Russia, transfer agreement be damned.

    ?The third period comes to an end. On the board is 17:35. Omsk is losing 4:5. The referee suddenly stops play, and everyone goes to the Avangard bench. On it visiting forward Alexei Cherepanov lays on the floor, and the other players and coaches crowd around him. The Vityaz players approach the bench. Hockey has come to an end. The doctor brings ammonium chloride to Cherepanov’s nose, trying to bring him around. It’s useless. Nobody can understand what has happened. For three minutes the doctors work with Alexei. The boy regains consciousness, goes out again.

    – K. Velyakov of Soviet Sport, as translated on

    The chilling, crudely translated accounts out of Chekhov, Russia paint a picture of chaos and horror.

    “It is terribly painful for me to talk about it,” Jagr said to Czech publication MF DNES. “It’s terrible. It’s a shock, which can’t be described. I was very close to him. “

    “Everything happened suddenly and very quickly,” he said. “Lesha (Cherepanov) left the ice, sat on the bench. And died. “

    ?This season there has been an important event – the arrival of Jagr. I generally consider him my fourth coach. He always gives me advice when something doesn’t work out. After practice we often remain with him and work on shooting. And he’s always ready to come to the aid of the other guys. Everyone sees that he very experienced in the game and wants to become a champion. – Cherepanov’s first and only blog entry for Komsomolskay Pravda, as translated on

    The death of an up and coming 19-year old superstar hit people from all over very hard.

    “I’ve been a die-hard Devils fan since the day I was born,” wrote Katie Belusa, a senior at Chatam High in New Jersey. “When I found out Cherepanov died I was actually really upset.”

    “No matter how intense the rivalry of Devils-Rangers is, a player’s life overshadows the hatred between teams,” she wrote.

    Uniforms don’t account for much when it comes to tragedy,” said Devils fan Dillon Tripp. “We are all hockey fans, and the sport dims when such a young, promising talent is lost,” he said.

    Seeing any healthy, athletic 19-year old drop dead doing the thing he love’s is a tough pill to swallow.

    Velyakov had these final words to say about Cherepanov

    The doctors put Cherepanov on a stretcher. Try to breathe life into the boy. Perform CPR. It is useless. Blood starts to trickle from Cherepanov’s nose. Two hundred fans surround the ambulance. Everyone is silent. Anton Kuryanov, flying out to the street directly from the shower, can’t hold back tears. In his eyes four hospital attendants enter the ambulance with Alexei on a stretcher. The door is closed. The sirens are turned on. The ambulance speeds away to a Chekhov hospital. The people watching the scene for a long time stand numb at the side of the arena.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *