by Mike Chen on 10/14/08 at 02:06 PM ET
It seems a little inconsequential to be discussing how the Alexei Cherepanov affects international hockey since the bottom line is that a kid just died, perhaps unnecessarily so. However, I know I’m not the only one who instantly wondered what was going through the minds of ex-NHLers who chose to go to the KHL or other NHLers who may have been contemplating that. Did it make them pause and wonder if they made the right choice?
In the NHL, you know you’re getting the best of everything: venues, resources, transportation, and medical care. I’ve never been to Russia, let alone a hockey arena there, so this is all going by news reports. However, to hear that the Russian arena lost its ambulance in the third period, didn’t have a stretcher available, and quite possibly didn’t have a working defibrillator, well, there are some amateur rinks that have better medical access than what happened to Cherepanov.
I think of Chris Pronger collapsing on the ice. I think of Jiri Fisher keeling over on the bench. I even think of Richard Zednick clutching his neck. All three were saved because of immediate professional medical attention—both trainers and doctors on site, ready and available with necessary equipment. Would those players have survived a similar situation in the KHL? I don’t know.
Does this situation make any NHL-quality player involved with the KHL think twice? If it were me, yeah, I’d definitely take a step back and wonder about. If there’s a 0.0001% chance that this happens on the ice, isn’t that remote possibility worth enough to a KHL paycheck to ensure that you have all the safety nets you need? It makes sense to me, but consider this—you could say the exact same thing about wearing a visor vs. losing an eye and you’ve still got players who refuse to do that.
Going by that logic, I don’t think you’ll see any change in players going to the KHL when money calls.
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