“I’ll survive it” joked the forward of Omsk Avangard club Alexei Cherepanov when he had his gum cut in a Saturday’s match versus ZSKA. Lyosha had only too days: his heart stopped on 13 October’s night after the match Vityaz vs. Avangard in a near-Moscow city of Chekhov. 15 January the most talented Russian hockey player was to be 20.
He could have started the new season in New York Rangers; this NHL club chose him last year and counted on him very much. Then everything might have happened different way. But Lyosha decided to spend another season in Avangard so that to get more firmly established and to learn from famous Yaromir Yagr who had come to Omsk at the end of his career right from New York. Lyosha might not have collided with the great Czech accidentally three minutes before the match was over, and then he might be alive now.
No one can see the chain of accidental events that has caused Alexei’s death. He never had complaints about his heart and did not have serious traumas. He had been in great shape and before the match vs. ZSKA he had got points in 9 matches successively which topped the record. And in the last match he scored on the 7 minute. But in the end of that match not the brilliant career but the life itself was over.
In those minutes his life was in doctors’ hands. Lyosha Cherepanov got unconscious several times and came back into life and got unconscious again. There was no ambulance at the match. When it arrived, it turned out that the defibrillator was out of work. Other means did not help making the heart go again. Two hours after, the doctors in the hospital registered the death. And that death was caused not with a chain of accidental things but with absolute unreadiness for the emergency. Tragedies in sport may happen right in the field, on the ring or during a race, or during a practice session. Acute heart insufficiency is becoming a more frequent reason for that. The heart fails to stand without any visible reasons. The reason is hidden somewhere deep inside, but it kills instantly.
It is unlikely that doctors of such a professional club as Omsk Avangard might have concealed the ischemic heart disease which is alleged to Cherepanov, according to preliminary information. This is too serious to be true. Possibly, there have been no reasons to get them alert. And when the championship is going on, there is no time for proper physical examination of all the players, as there are too many problems with traumas to deal.
That Monday Avangard was playing the third guest match during 5 days; with such a schedule there’s no time to rest. Changing the scheme of the championship and limiting the number of players in the clubs to 20 people, the leadership of the Continental Hockey League, copied the NHL standards. But NHL means not only matches; it also means according infrastructure, including the social one, and high degree of protection of the players, and responsibility by all services, including medical ones. We only can dream about all that.
However, too busy schedule and overstrain are just indirect reasons. Investigation is to clear the direct ones. Anyway, Alexei Cherepanov cannot be back with us.
In the morning of 13th October his name was announced among candidates to the national Russian team. He had been the junior world champion. And he had chances to be the youth word champion (he had been recognized the best forward of the youth championship). He was needed in NHL not only because they like forwards who score much, but also because they appreciate those who play with a smile, enjoying the game and making others enjoy it too.
This is exactly how Lyosha played. Till the fatal Monday.