Police report says medical treatment did not cause Cherepanov's death

Updated: November 14, 2008, 2:27 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Initial findings from a Russian police investigation indicated the quality of medical treatment did not cause the death of New York Rangers prospect and Continental Hockey League player Alexei Cherepanov.

Cherepanov, the 17th overall pick in the 2007 entry draft, collapsed on the bench during the third period of a KHL game Oct. 13 at the Sports Palace in Chekov outside Moscow.

The Russian state police report was revealed at a Friday news conference in Moscow, the details of which were forwarded to ESPN.com. Doctors and medical personnel "acted professionally and did everything they could. The absence of special medical equipment in the arena was not the cause of death of this hockey player," Vladimir Shalaev, head of hockey operations for the fledgling KHL, said in a news release.

Russian officials, however, refused to reveal exactly what caused Cherepanov's death, but promised that information would be forthcoming.

It is unknown whether criminal charges still might be filed.

"There was a move to close the criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Aleksei Cherepanov [sic], however the prosecutor ordered that the criminal investigation continue," Shalaev said.

"Once the KHL receives the results of a comprehensive forensic examination, they will be made public, and any further individuals found to be negligent will be identified," Shalaev was quoted as saying.

Cherepanov, who had just returned from a shift in a game in which he scored a goal, was carried by Avangard Omsk teammates, including former NHL star Jaromir Jagr, into their dressing room.

Medical staff tried to revive Cherepanov at the arena and later at a hospital, where he died. He was 19 years old.

There were initial reports that defibrillators at the arena did not work and that ambulance staff were slow responding to the emergency.

The KHL moved quickly to suspend the arena manager and the team manager from the host Vityaz club within days of Cherepanov's death.

"The KHL acted appropriately and within its bounds in imposing sanctions against the Vityaz club director and other officials involved in this tragic accident," Shalaev said in Friday's statement.

The news release also indicated the KHL finally had received medical records from the Rangers regarding Cherepanov's time at a Rangers training camp following the 2007 draft.

In an interview with ESPN.com in Toronto last weekend, KHL president Alexander Medvedev complained that two requests for those records had been denied by the Rangers.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly explained to ESPN.com that those records could only be released with the family's consent, and that Cherepanov's family had not provided that consent.

"We would like to express our thanks to this NHL club for sharing the results of this medical exam with us." Shalaev said.

The KHL also announced that as part of a new medical screening process adopted after Cherepanov's death, an examination of 67 KHL players revealed that five have medical problems.

"Of this group, it appears that one or two young hockey players may have significant health concerns and may have to change their careers," a KHL official said.

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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