Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Sources: Russian state police to investigate Cherepanov death
By Scott Burnside
Russian state police have taken over the investigation into the shocking death of New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov during a Continental Hockey League game outside Moscow last week, ESPN.com has learned.
Details of the investigation, requested by the KHL, are expected to be made public in two to three weeks, KHL board member and soon-to-be Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Igor Larionov told ESPN.com after Tuesday's meeting in Russia.
"It's going to be like a criminal case and hopefully we'll get some results in two to three weeks," Larionov said.
The Russian hockey icon and NHL star who helped Russian businessman Alex Medvedev found the league and sits on the KHL's board of directors was pushing for an independent examination of the circumstances surrounding Cherepanov's death. Larionov, Medvedev and Slava Fetisov, a teammate of Larionov's in Detroit and also a Hall of Famer who is now head of the ministry of sport in Russia, also attended Tuesday's emergency meeting. Avangard Omsk management and league officials were also on hand for the meeting.
The investigation will focus on both the cause of death and external circumstances that may have played a part in the 19-year-old's death. There have been reports that Cherepanov, the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft, suffered from some sort of pre-existing heart condition prior to collapsing on the bench late in a game between his team, Avangard Omsk, and Chekhov Vityaz at an arena on the outskirts of Moscow a little over a week ago. Officials will be looking to explore what, if any, pre-existing medical conditions might have led to Cherepanov's death.
The investigation will also examine what safeguards were in place at the time, including the availability of an ambulance (there are reports that either there was no ambulance at the arena or that it left before the game ended) and the status of medical equipment on hand and the training of officials at the arena. There have been reports that a defibrillator on hand was not in working order and that there was a delay in administering medical attention while players moved Cherepanov from the bench area to the dressing room.
Larionov insisted all of the details of the investigation will be made available to the media when the investigation is completed.
"Not like the old times when information sometimes just goes away," Larionov said.
Still, Larionov, one of the most respected men in the game, sounded a bit wary when asked if he was happy that this was the course the investigation was taking.
"At this moment I could be happy but at the same time I'm kind of cautious if the case is going to go in a different direction," he said.
"We want true information coming out," Larionov added.
Cherepanov had just finished a shift near the end of the game when he collapsed between former NHL star Jaromir Jagr and another teammate, Pavel Rosa, coach Wayne Fleming told ESPN.com the night of the incident.
He said Cherepanov turned white.
Video shows teammates awkwardly carrying the fallen player off the bench.
He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.