Rangers Draft Pick Dies After Heart Stops

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Alexei Cherepanov was destined to do great things in the world of hockey. But at only 19-years-old, his life was cut short. Cherepanov died Monday, after collapsing on the bench with only a few minutes left in a K.H.L game in Chekhov, Russia.

Despite his teammates efforts to revive him, Cherepanov remained unconscious. His body was taken into the arena's corridor, and the game resumed with only a slight delay. The crowd hardly noticed there was something wrong.

Cherepanov's heart had apparently stopped three minutes before the end of the game. He was rushed to a hospital in Chekhov, where doctors tried to revive him for more than an hour. They were apparently able to resuscitate him for about two minutes, before his heart stopped again. Cherepanov was pronounced dead at 10:55 p.m., local time.

It's still unknown what circumstances, if any led to his heart stopping, but it's reported that his collapse was not a result of a collision with another player or a blow to the head or chest.

In 2007 the Russian forward was a first-round draft pick for the New York Rangers, and considered one of the organization's top prospects.

Cherepanov was a well-known name in the K.H.L (the Russian professional hockey league). He played on team Avangard Omsk where he set the Russian Superliga record for most goals by a rookie in the 2006-2007 season, with 18. He was expected to be pulled up to the Rangers sometime this season, but decided to stay and play alongside NHL legend Jaromir Jagr.

Jagr, who had become a mentor to Cherepanov, was reportedly distraught and in tears after he learned of the young man's death.

Rangers' president and General Manager Glen Sather issued an official statement on the team's Web sit: "We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei. 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."

Team Avangard also expressed their condolences to Cherepanov's family and friends on their Website: "We grieve with you. We will always remember and love our Leshu. Without him, we are all orphaned."

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