Omsk Avangard forward Alexei Cherepanov fell unconscious on the bench during the KHL game between Avangard and Chekhov Vityaz.
The young forward unexpectedly collided with his teammate during the line change. Soon after a 19-year-old hockey player's heart stopped, and he was sent to the resuscitation.
YouTube video: "17 years old from Russia"
THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jay LaPrete
On June 22, 2007, Cherepanov was drafted in the 1st round, 17th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, despite being considered by many rankings to be a top 5 prospect, and the top European available.
Nicknamed the Siberian Express, Cherepanov is in his second season with Avangard, a team in southwestern Siberia. In his rookie season in the RSL, Cherepanov had more points than now-NHL stars Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk did in their first seasons in the Super League at the age of 17. In March 2007, Cherepanov surpassed the Russian league rookie goal scoring record previously held by Pavel Bure.
He represented Russia at the 2007 World Jr. Hockey Championships. Along with winning a silver medal, he led the tournament in scoring and subsequently named to the tournaments all-star team, as well as earning the award as best forward.
Do you remember what happened to Jiri Fischer?
"His heart had stopped, and there was no pulse," coach Mike Babcock said. "But they hooked up the auto defibrillator, and they shocked him."
Apparently KHL arenas with all those billions of oil dollars don't have portable defibrillators, like the one Red Wings had in Joe Louis Arena.
And Nashville Predators center Sergei Zholtok died in Minsk [correction] while playing for Riga Dynamo, Latvia in 2004 during lockout, no defibrillator there either.
According to comments on SportBox.ru it was Jagr's elbow. Jarg is Cherepanov's teammate. Apparently Jarg didn't see him. Afterwards Jagr was shouting "Wake up Alexei" and was in tears.
The latest comment is that Cherepanov passed away.
(That was just a comment, there's no official confirmation.)
Thoughts and prayers with you, Alexei.
Update Oct. 13, 2008, 23:30 Russian Time:
Sports.ru reports that Cherepanov died in the hospital.
sport-express.ru reports that ambulance didn't have a defibrillator with them and andrenalin shots and heart massage didn't help. They still were able to start the heart 5 times and after one of them Cherepanov even got conscious and recognized his teammates. But them his heart stopped again.
They also report that there were no hard collisions and Cherepanov's heart stopped when he was at the bench.
SovSport.ru reports that there was no ambulance at the scene and it came in 15 minutes after it happened. TV crew said that Cherepanov got consciousness 5 times.
Five minutes after the game was over the ambulance had finally arrived but their defibrillator batteries were dead.
Jagr (in tears): "He was sitting next to me on the bench and suddenly he lost consciousness".
The time was 17:35, which means 2:25 left (It's not a countdown clock in Russia).
(h/t to Kukla's Korner:
...video showing Cherepanov receiving treatment from the medical staff while on the bench.)
They didn't even have a stretcher, had to carry him w/o it.
Can you stop the music, please? Your comrade is dying...
Compare it to Detroit JLA arena when Jiri Fischer collapsed...
Autopsy Update Oct. 14, 2008:
championat.ru, Oct. 14, 2008:
According to the medical examiner who carried out the autopsy of Alexei Cherepanov the sudden death of the hockey player was caused by acute heart failure as a result of miocardiopathy, most likely a hypertrophy of the heart muscle.
"We were at the place of the tragedy till five in the morning" said managing director of the Kontinental Hockey League Vladimir Shalaev. "We already have in our hands the medical expert's opinion. We can say unambiguously that Alexei Cherepanov death is a result of a heart attack and miocardiopathy. The disease was not shown up during the game or the year before. As it was found Alexei had it for a long time. Judge for yourself, the man of his age should have the heart weight of about 290 grams, while Alexei heart weight was 495 grams."
"With this data he shouldn't just not be allowed to play, he should be given a disability" said Shalaev.
The official site of Omsk Avanguard categorically denied that Cherepanov had a pre-condition. They are saying he was completely healthy including the morning of the day when it happened.
sportbox.ru, Oct. 14, 2008:
The managing Director of K.H.L. Vladimir Shalaev promised that circumstances of Alexei Cherepanov death of will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible will suffer severe punishment.
"The death of Alexei Cherepanov is a huge loss and tragedy. As far as the circumstances of his death this is the prerogative of law enforcement agencies" said Shalaev. "We are now have enough evidence, and I I can say only two things, I do not have the right to add anything else right now. First, we know the cause of death, it was an acute cardiac arrest and miocardiopathy. Second, we know that during the game Cherepanov did not receive any injuries. That's all that we know now, and the questions about other violations in raltion to that is a thing of law enforcement."
Was it known to Avanguard about Cherepanov's illness?
I can't tell you that. According to the documents submitted by the club to K.H.L. Cherepanov was healthy at the start of the season.
Were there other regulations violations of the K.H.L. games except for the absence of ambulance?
Indeed, at a time when all this happened the ambulance was not there and this is a flagrant violation. Just this fact alone is more than enough.
Will there be any sanctions after this tragic incident?
Of course! The league has established a special commission which is conducting a thorough check on this occasion, but we can't talk about it without the permission of law enforcement.
What sanctions do you mean in mind, a fine or expulsion from the league?
Right now we are not thinking about it. Right now you need to know the truth, the cause, so that this never happens again, and it will take us at least three weeks to investigate it.
Some are inclined to blame K.H.L. for the tragedy that is K.H.L. that has not fully developed the requirements and regulations as a new the organization yet.
I don't want to cover anybody, but the League has done everything in strict accordance with the requirements and standards. In the application that was submitted to K.H.L., all was relevant, that he had the right to play, was allowed to play, we have a document that the hockey arena was ready for the season. I think this is a serious and tragic event and we'll find out why it happened.
What conclusions about this tragedy will be made by the K.H.L.?
We'll find why it happened and the conclusions will follow, and it will be the most rigorous and principled ones, in that I have no doubt.
TSN.CA, Ost. 14, 2008:
MOSCOW - A Russian lawmaker said Tuesday that rising hockey star Alexei Cherepanov, a first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, may have died due to negligence on the part of paramedics who responded to an emergency call.
Russian investigators said Cherepanov suffered from chronic ischemia, a medical condition in which not enough blood gets to the heart or other organs.
Grossman said Monday that testing done on Cherepanov at the NHL combine before last year's draft didn't reveal any heart problems. He has been told that players in the KHL receive regular heart and blood tests, similar to those given in the NHL.
The Rangers announced Cherepanov's death shortly before they played at home against the New Jersey Devils on Monday night. New York coach Tom Renney said his club was not aware of any health issues with the young player.
Capitals Insider, Oct. 14, 2008:
*I asked Ovechkin about the sudden death of Rangers' prospect Alexei Cherepanov yesterday. Ovechkin said he met Cherepanov a few times when he was practicing with Omsk a few years back and Cherepanov was on the organization's junior team.
"It was hard news for me, for all of our four guys," Ovechkin said. "All of my mind was all about him. I was so sad."
"I practiced with him a few times," Ovechkin added. "If it's true that there was no ambulance there, it can't be like this. It's a hard time for us"
There was a short note in one of the Russian newspapers that Ovi offered condolences to Cherepanov's family. No details, I guess he called them.
By Scott Burnside, ESPN, Oct. 14, 2008:
"I'm very upset about this," Larionov told ESPN.com from Los Angeles on Tuesday. "First of all, I feel terrible for the family of Alexei Cherepanov. But we need to get to the bottom of this and find out what happened. I sent [league president] Alex [Medvedev] an e-mail last night and said we needed to have an emergency board of directors meeting. This is unacceptable. ...
"This is a blow for the KHL," added Larionov, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next month. "We must learn from this. This cannot happen ever again."
We know KHL is a new league, there's a lot of learning involved. And we know Igor Larionov, he'll make sure things will be better in the future and the accidents like not having defibrillators, stretchers and ambulance won't happen again. Unfortunately this won't return Alex Cherepanov back to life, but hopefully this accident will save the athlete's lives in Russia in the future.
Rest in peace, Alexei...
Dr. Colucci: Ambulance wouldn't help, but defibs would.
Bob McKenzie's blog at TSN.CA, Oct. 15, 2008:
Russian authorities also alluded to Cherepanov having a "hypertrophic" heart, which is a thickening of the heart wall and that, Dr. Colucci, said is more likely what caused Cherepanov to collapse on the bench and ultimately die.
The condition is known as Hypertrophy CardioMyopathy (HCM) and it is a silent killer, often difficult to detect and often lethal when it strikes.
"The first and sometimes only symptom you see from HCM," Dr. Colucci said, "is when the player collapses during activity. The individual goes into sudden cardiac arrest."
Dr. Colucci said that if the Russian authorities are saying Cherepanov had a "thickened" heart wall, "HCM would be No. 1 on my list for what was the cause of death. Until I could find evidence of something else I would be looking at HCM. This is the leading cause of death in elite athletes who exhibit no other symptoms and then collapse during activity."
It was Colucci's quick action on that night in November of 2005 that saved the life of Fischer. It will never be known for sure if similar action taken by medical authorities in Russia could have saved the life of Cherepanov, but what is becoming clear is that Cherepanov's chances of survival diminished greatly because he wasn't treated as efficiently and expertly as Fischer.
Reports from Russia indicate there were no working defibrillators on the scene - they are used to shock the heart back into a normal rhythm - and no ambulance either, although Dr. Colucci suggested an ambulance would not likely have saved Cherepanov's life because the window of opportunity to revive an athlete who has collapsed because of HCM is so small.
"Ambulances should always be there and in the NHL we have rules that there has to be two at every game, one for the players and one for the spectators," Dr. Colucci said. "But the (life-saving) treatment on the player has to happen immediately. There's no time to move him."
In fact, Dr. Colucci said if the proper treatment isn't started within four minutes, it's likely too late to do anything.
"(Four minutes) is the maximum amount of time the brain can go without blood flow from the heart," Dr. Colucci said. "After that, there's irreparable brain damage."
In order to save a life, as Dr. Colucci did with Fischer, a very specific treatment is required.
It starts with chest compression CPR, five cycles of it for two minutes, followed by defibrillation. This process ensures the blood flow from the heart to the brain is continued manually with the CPR and the hope is the defibrillation shocks the heart back into beating normally again. It is repeated until the heart responds. Or doesn't.
With no working defibs on site, Cherepanov's chances of survival dropped drastically.
"There is nothing that guarantees anything 100 per cent," Dr. Colucci said, "but if you do the CPR properly and use defibrillation, your chances (of revival) increase dramatically, they go way, way up. If you only do CPR, they go way, way down. If you only do defibrillation, they go way, way down."
And if you do nothing at all?
"Your chances (of survival) are zero per cent," Dr. Colucci said.
When former Detroit Red Wing Igor Larionov, the classy Russian who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame next month, heard about what happened to Cherepanov, one of his first calls was to Dr. Colucci.
Larionov has said the Kontinental Hockey League must respond to this crisis and ensure it never happens again, or at least the league should take steps to ensure every arena is better equipped to deal with emergencies of this nature.
Dr. Colucci agrees.
"This is such a horrible tragedy," Dr. Colucci said. "I know this Russian league is trying to make it more attractive to NHL players but this is one huge blemish on this league. Reading what happened, it is pretty clear they were not set up properly to handle this. It's a tragedy."
Authorities in Russia will investigate if there was any criminal negligence in the Cherepanov case.
Dr. Colucci is a strong supporter of the Jiri Fischer Foundation Healthy Hope, which Fischer started after his near-death experience. Amongst other things, Healthy Hope is pushing for people to be trained and certified in CPR and to have AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) in as many places as possible.
"I really think defibs should be in every home, every vehicle, every workplace, everywhere," Dr. Colucci said. "Lives can be saved."