Former NHL first-rounder Alexei Cherepanov, 19, collapsed tonight during a KHL game and was pronounced dead a short time later. The tragedy comes less than a year after the deaths of talented young players Luc Bourdon and Mickey Renaud. Coverage of the sad development to TSN: Ranger prospect Cherepanov dies during KHL game
Omsk head coach, Wayne Fleming, said Cherepanov collapsed on the bench during the third period of the game and did not see anything that happened on the ice that may have contributed to it. Fleming also said medical authorities tried to get Cherepanov's heart beating again after it had stopped. Sources in Russia tell TSN that the ambulance that is normally at all games had already departed and had to be called back. It is not clear exactly how long it took for Cherepanov to be transported from the rink to the hospital but one source in the arena told TSN it was "probably 15 or 20 minutes." Also, there is some question as to whether defibrillators at the arena were in good working order. No further details are available at this point.The sudden passing takes away an NHL superstar in waiting, as many considered Cherepanov step-for-step with 2007 #1 overall pick Patrick Kane in terms of offensive talent. TSN continues:
He had seven goals and 12 points in 14 games played this season in KHL, including the first goal in today's game. Cherepanov played 106 games during his career in the KHL/RSL (Russian Super League), all with Avangard Omsk and scored 40 goals with 29 assists over that span. He set the RSL record for goals by a rookie with 18, beating the previous mark held by Pavel Bure (17 goals), during the 2006-07 season. His total of 29 points in his rookie campaign was more than Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk during their first initial RSL seasons. Cherepanov helped lead Russia to a Bronze Medal at the World Junior Championships in 2008, scoring three goals and adding three assists with a plus-three rating over his six games at the tournament. Cherepanov was drafted by the Rangers in the 1st round, 17th overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.