With all the Dollars and cents the KHL offers,it makes no sense that the hockey world lost one of its future stars. Regardless of his talents,not a single player should have their life in jeopardy playing pro hockey. With all the hazards the game brings naturally, ( Concussions,puck movement,stick infractions,and skate blades) to fight for your life on the bench seems insane. There are trainers and coaches and doctors on all aren't there? They have equipment and lifelines and even phones right? Maybe the steel giants and oil tycoons in Eastern Europe could even manage to dig up a newspaper in the piles of cash that lay on their custom teek wood desks. Just 3 years ago a player from their own backyard ( Czech rep) was fortunate to be playing in the states or his life might have been put in question too. Jiri Fischer went into cardiac arrest on the Redwings bench in an early November game vs. the Predators in 2005. With an automated external defibrillator and the right medical personnel, his life was preserved then rushed to the hospital. The Pro sports world has seen players drop on football fields and collapses on basketball courts ,and no matter the opponent no one can stop the battle of medical issues. But ,what we can do is provide the players with a fighting chance and the security to know that if a problem should develop they would be in good hands. With the hands of the KHL in the piggy bank they must smell of manure and let them smell them every time someone utters the name Cherepanov. Blinded by greed and trying to draw NHLers to their league,they forgot to unplug the coffee pot and may watch it all burn down. As the absentee landlord finally shows up ,Russian officials pulled up in the ambulance that left 20 minutes early. They play on investigating the death of the " Siberian Express",word is they were last scene running away from the Redwings bench!
As a fan, it still seems unreal that # 17 will never have to ask Dubinsky if he minded changing his number. He was robbed of that right and the Rangers and their fans lost a projected all-star talent. One can only wonder if Jagr had stayed one more year on Broadway,if Alexei could have been swayed to come here early. We can only wonder what might have been,but Jagr made it known that Cherepanov could have been skating on New York's # 2 line right now. Renny planned on Cherepanov skating in NY next year the latest and having him in the fold would have given him the scoring winger the Rangers miss. One has to wonder if bringing Zherdev to NY and adding Russian talent through the draft was all part of the big picture. The Rangers drafted Anismov ( Cherepanov's WJC center) and made a pitch to acquire the third pivot Filatov ( Columbus's first round pick) with visions of a dynamic all Russian line. With plenty of defenseman in the picture and tons of character the Rangers only missing piece was a sure top level scoring chip. In June 2007, they watched the train fall into their laps at # 17 and Glen Sathers grin was bigger than mine. The Siberian Express was going to pull into Penn Station if they could work out the transfer agreement.Not only did he have a sharp training camp in 07,but his Russian Club Omsk and NY would develop a partnership that made his arrival on Broadway almost certain . Now that he is gone the Rangers will look to fill the void left in their future. As they skate now, not one wing paired with Scott Gomez can finish a juice box. Naslund has struggled and despite loads of character Callahan and company are third line talent at best. Zheredev has clicked with new line mates Dubinsky and Voros,but a # 2 line can not be expected to carry you all year. For the Last two years, the Rangers lacked the extra sniper to put teams away and create mismatches on opposing scouting charts. In the playoffs the Rangers lost to Pittsburgh not because Crosby was stellar,but because Hossa was the extra player there to put them away. The year before they lost to a Buffalo team who swam in four line talent. This year the Rangers need to learn from their past and take a serious look at acquiring Marian Gaborik. He automatically jumps on to the # 1 line with Gomez. He has a great relationship with Voros (former Minnesota Linemate) and playing for Jacque Lemaire in Minnesota will not hurt Renny's defensive first system. The Rangers have a plethora of young forwards and could offer up one of their defensive prospects. With the addition of Michael DelZotto in this years draft,highly ranked Bobby Sanguenetti could give Minnesota a legitimate blue line prospect. If Minnesota wants security then serving up Michael Rozsival too mite start the package. Prucha and and an additional forward will follow along with at least a #1 pick ( which the Rangers can afford). I'm sure people will wonder about moving Drury or Gomez and if that's the case ,I would thank Chris for his first few games as captain and open the door. Gomez remains a true #1 center and no one breaks down a team faster than him. With a current cap hit of $6.33 million Gaborik's money would require a few moves by Rangers brass,but would finally give the club the right match for Scotty. Of course not every plan works such a Jagr and Gomez,but the Rangers would have the option of letting him walk or pairing him up with another center .If they don't add Gaborik this season then they will have options next year in the free agent market,but must extend deals to some of their own young players.Adding Alexi and his affordable entry deal will not be in the mix and the Ranger will have to bring in # 1 scoring talent from other avenues.
The team is off to a great start so far, but the challenge will be to keep the club in the fold for the long term. To his family : I wish all of Cherepanov's friends and family the best. One can only hope that our hockey God's are taking care of young Cherepanov. I hope he is taking shots on Pelle Lindbergh as Badger Bob and Rocket Richard show him a trick or two. RIP # 17.