Monday, October 13

Alexei Cherepanov

Outrage over soon to be Toronto Marlies enforcer Ryan Hollweg hurting his career and more importantly, the Leafs, falls quickly silent this afternoon. It seems silly and insubstantial upon hearing the news of the heart attack death of a 19 year-old boy, Omsk forward and Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov.

The sense of shock about how this could happen to such a healthy young person is slowly being joined by feelings of outrage at how avoidable this might have been. As details come in about the incident- some true, many undoubtedly speculative- one tries not to perceive the incumbent events from a strictly emotional place. The situation will be ugly enough once we know what actually did and sadly didn't happen.

Apparently, an ambulance which is stationed at the rink for each game left before it had finished. Cherepanov had the crushing misfortune of collapsing at the end of the third, after its departure. The timeline varies about how long it took the ambulance to return to the rink. Some are saying around 15 minutes. Some are saying an insane 45. As there was no defibrillator on or near the bench, all Cherepanov's helpless teammates could do was carry him off the bench to the dressing room.

We'll see in the coming weeks what the state of Cherepanov's health actually was. We'll see if swift and proper medical attention could have saved him. We'll see whether or not his heart failing was only a matter of time, the only variable being where he would be when it happened.

A sad reminder to keep hockey, and in a much larger sense, life, in perspective. We've seen it with unfortunate frequency in the past few years. It was there after Luc Bourdon was killed, and when Jason Blake was diagnosed with cancer. Tempering our passion for our game with this view is perhaps the only way to find and make sense out of such senseless tragedy.