Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Musings

With the news that Avangard Omsk demoted Alexi Cherepanov to their farm team comes the wondering about how fast the Ranger fan message boards will start labeling Cherepanov as a bust.

A supposed demotion to Avangard2 has to provide fuel for people to start speculating about the potential of Cherepanov.

Before people start with the labeling, let us first try to find out exactly what is going on with Cherepanov. Our reasoning behind that is because over the last week, Cherepanov has gone from suffering from a groin injury to now this demotion.

Last Wednesday the Russian Sports site (sorry in Russian) reported that Cherepanov had aggravated a groin injury during the Omsk's season opener. The site reported that Cherepanov reportedly first suffered this injury while working out with the Russian Under 20 team.

In fact the way the story was written that it (the injury) was caused by Cherepanov being overworked by said Under-20 team. That no complaint was made about the level of work from any player makes us wonder how accurate that accusation is.

Then Cherepanov missed the next Omsk's next game and the reports then said he would be back on Sunday. Only problem is that come Sunday, Cherepanov was not in the game and reportedly had been demoted to the farm team of the Omsk.

As of today, there is only one thing that can be sure of is that Alexi Cherepanov is not on the Avangard Omsk roster. After that every possible rumor is going to raise their ugly head until someone can actually see where exactly Cherepanov has gone.

We can see all the wild rumors starting up given the timing of Cherepanov's reported removal from the Omsk roster. How about we give toss in the name of who was in attendance at that same Omsk season opener?

Interesting that Rangers Assistant Coach Mike Pelino was in attendance at the same game where Cherepanov reportedly was re-injured. Even better for the folks who live and die by the rumors is that Pelino went out of his way to say in response to a question about the relationship between the KHL and NHL (thanks to Laurie of Beyond the Blueshirts for this translation)

"I believe that we should respect each other’s contracts. I don’t know about other clubs in the NHL, but the Rangers will not break that rule. Cherepanov has a contract here with Avangard — we will not entice him to [come to] us. Let him play in Omsk and gain experience. And if Alex says that its better for him in Russia, we will not start harassing him."

Well Mike, now that reportedly Cherepanov is not on Omsk and IF Cherepanov says it is not better for him in Russia then what? Would the Rangers then try to help him escape his contract?

The other question we would ponder is given how angry the NHL is currently with both the IIHF and KHL over last weekend's lame non-decision regarding the Predator's Alexander Radulov; what would the NHL do if the Rangers were to attempt to sign Cherepanov now?

It is not as if the Rangers are very popular at NHL headquarters these days so what would the NHL do if Alexi Cherepanov showed up at the Ranger's training camp out of nowhere.

Enough daydreaming though as here is reality; it is very doubtful that the NHL would allow the Rangers to sign Cherepanov given the NHL's act that they are the saintly all-wonderful folks who never do anything wrong.

If Cherepanov showed up at the Ranger's training camp out of nowhere then a lot of people would look foolish. We can not see Avangard simply releasing Cherepanov while the KHL is fighting their war to keep their young players.

If anything the bottom line is that Cherepanov's continuing saga with his development is once again taking a hit. No matter how this works out, Cherepanov's reputation is once again going to suffer.

Here is what we believe is actually happening (all speculation); Cherepanov simply is not playing well, Omsk can claim he is hurt but nothing we have seen suggests that Cherepanov has his game together.

If the NHL can send a prospect who is underachieving to their farm team then why can't another league?

Congrats to a Good Guy

We got this from our friends with the QMJHL:

The Montreal Juniors announced today that former NHL defenseman Joël Bouchard is joining the club as an assistant coach.

Bouchard, who played 13 years in the National Hockey League, was drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1992. He also played for the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, Phoenix Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.

For the past few years, Bouchard has hosted and produced the Académie de hockey McDonald’s TV show on RDS. This TV show presents NHL players giving advices to young players to improve their technical skills.

When it comes to one of the good guys then Bouchard has always been one of them, that someone was smart enough to add Bouchard as a coach is a great move for hockey.

We see this as the beginning of a long career for Bouchard and you read it here first that one day Bouchard will be coaching in the NHL.

(pic credits: Cherepanov-Avangard Omsk, Bouchard-New York Islanders)


Amos said...

you might recall that on laurie's blog entry regarding cherepanov being sent down, i remarked that it would be hilarious if he showed up in nyr training camp. i still don't think it's going to happen, but it'd be nice. bottom line is however he's doing in the KHL, performing poorly or wowing people, he will be behind in development in the rangers' eyes. people will be starting rumors for sure about him being a bust, but i for one just hold out hope that one day he will be a ranger. in all honesty, there isn't much reason for me not to be hoping that one day, when he least expects it, he can catch brandon sutter with a cross check to the teeth a la christian backman on zack parise. ha! hard to believe that canadians call that dbag a hero for possibly the dirtiest hit i've ever seen.

Jess Rubenstein said...

I think because Cherepanov is now where close to being NHL or even AHL ready that the Rangers do not want him here right now because he would be a PR disaster.

As it is being demoted is not a bad thing when you consider he is still just a teenager.

Amos said...

exactly. he'd been playing in a men's league for two years, and perhaps needs a reminder of his role on the team. hopefully this demotion will have the same kind of effect it had on nigel dawes and ryan callahan.
either way, i'm not sweating (other than it still being summer in atlanta) over the demotion, i do believe that the rangers are treading very lightly with this situation, and rightfully so.

Laurie said...

Cherepanov's demotion to the farm club was a paper move to free up roster space while he was out injured.

With all due respect, I'm not sure on what you're basing the opinion "nothing we have seen suggests that Cherepanov has his game together". He had 5 goals and 2 assists in 5 pre-season games before he left to join the junior team for the Four Nations tournament. He had a goal and 2 assists in three games there. Prior to today, he'd played a half a game for Omsk, with a groin injury. I'm not sure that's enough time for any conclusions to be drawn.

Jess Rubenstein said...


There are a few signs here that make a person wonder.

An groin injury that until last week was not reported.

Pointing a finger at the Russian Under-20 Team claiming they overworked Cherepanov when nobody else complained.

The "recovery" of said injury

Those are signs of a possible problem.

I also think you will concede that Cherepanov also does not have the most stellar of reputations for his work ethic

Laurie said...


Why would anyone have said a word about Cherepanov's groin injury before it got to the point that he had to miss games? It's not like NHL teams make nagging injuries public knowledge. He tweaked his groin during the Four Nations Tournament and continued playing. He came back to Omsk and in the first game, it got worse. So they opted for caution and sat him out. I don't see why this raises any red flags at all. If this was any other player in any other league, no one would think twice about it. In fact, if it were any other prospect Ranger fans would probably be commending the team for being cautious.

For the record, Cherepanov never said a word about being overworked while with the junior team. The finger pointing, as best I can tell, came from the team. I think it was you (forgive me if it wasn't) who speculated that it was part of Omsk setting the stage for trying to withhold him from international tournaments. That's actually far more plausible than the team manufacturing an injury to cover up poor play. The original article that reported the injury even went so far as pointing out that this is the second year running that Cherepanov's returned from the junior team injured.

And while I'll certainly concede that Cherepanov's gotten a reputation for having a poor work ethic -- and there have been things I've read from him in the past that didn't exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy -- I also recognize that many of the people who've thrust that label upon him haven't ever seen him play more than a handful of international games and most likely have never spoken to him or anyone who's actually coached him. I would also argue that the "lazy" label has been unfairly given to many, many Russian players who didn't deserve it.

By all reports, Cherepanov showed up for camp this season with a far more serious demeanor. He worked with a personal trainer all summer. He's 19 years old coming off a personally disappointing year which he said himself taught him a number of life lessons. It could be he's actually grown up and realized there's more playing hockey professionally than just having the skill. Only time will tell. In the meantime, throwing the kid under the bus because he pulled his groin and you don't like the way the story was presented -- second-hand, mind you -- seems a little hasty.

Jess Rubenstein said...


Not wanting this to go on forever, I have defended Cherepanov more than any other person covering Ranger prospects.

I never said it was Cherepanov who complained about his being overworked, I pointed the finger at Omsk who is as I have repeatedly said suspect when it comes to be trustworthy.

There was no report from anyone that suggested Cherepanov was injured at 4 Nations. However as soon as he reportedly was injured Omsk was quick to blame the national team and the Sarge (who gets a bum rush for his supposed treatment of Cherepanov).

Oh and FYI Cherepanov has his doubters because of Cherepanov not because people want to see him fail.