New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov died during a game in his native Russia on Monday. He was 19.
Cherepanov collapsed on the bench during Omsk's Kontinental Hockey League game and died a short time later. Omsk head coach Wayne Fleming said Cherepanov collapsed during the third period of the game and did not see anything that happened on the ice that may have contributed to it. He also said medical authorities tried to get Cherepanov's heart beating again after it had stopped.
"They tried to get his heart started again but they couldn't," he explained.
Sources in Russia told 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."
There are also questions as to whether defibrillators at the arena were in good working order, though no further details are available.
"We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei," said New York Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather in a statement. "On behalf of the New York Rangers organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family. Alexei was an intelligent, energetic young man, with tremendous talent and an extremely bright future."
Cherepanov was drafted 17th overall by the Rangers in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
"He was a great kid," Cherepanov's agent Jay Grossman told TSN. "He had a great smile and was an outstanding player with a great future on and off the ice. It's both shocking and devastating news for all of us. "
He had seven goals and 12 points in 14 games played this season in KHL, including the first goal in Monday'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 29 points in his rookie campaign was more than Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk scored during their first initial RSL seasons.
Cherepanov also 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.
"The NHLPA is saddened to learn of the passing of Alexei Cherepanov," said NHL Players' Association executive director Paul Kelly in a statement. "Alexei was a tremendous young man and a highly-skilled hockey player whose promising career had no limits. His unexpected passing at such a young age is a great loss for the entire hockey community. The NHLPA extends our condolences to Alexei's family, friends and teammates during this extremely difficult time."