Friday, August 31, 2007

Cherepanov done after just 2 games at the Super Series

Alexei Cherepanov, superstar forward for Team Russia, is out for the rest of the Super Series with a concussion. He sustained the concussion in the first period of Wednesday's loss when Brandon Sutter caught Cherepanov with his head down and delivered a crushing hit.

He didn't take part Friday in the morning skate, and officials for Team Russia are saying that he's still in the hospital.

I have to wonder about the severity of this concussion. On the one hand, the team would not want to lose their star player for the entire series, because it will be that much harder to succeed at all. But let's say that team officials are really beginning to doubt whether they can succeed, and they worry that the Canadians will go after Cherepanov even more as the series wears on. There are six games left, four of which are on Canada's home turf, so you know that Team Canada will be even more aggressive in front of their fans. Perhaps Cherepanov's RSL team quietly said that they don't want their star player to lose his entire season with the club and that he should be pulled from the team.

Ordinarily I don't question a player's health when it comes to concussions, but this one just struck me as being a little bit off. Cherepanov actually played his best hockey of the Series after Brandon Sutter hit him in the opening frame on Wednesday. Sure, he made a few lazy plays, but he had a number of shifts that were really good, if not great. He wasn't knocked out, he didn't have any balance problems (certainly not like Seidenberg of Germany, who was on the wrong end of a Shea Weber hit at Worlds this spring), and frankly, he looked okay on the ice for over 40 minutes of play. The fact that he's still in the hospital would suggest that he sustained a serious injury, so why was he able to play for so long after being hurt?

Maybe I don't know anything here...maybe Cherepanov is really hurt, and maybe my 'pro-Team Canada' attitude has clouded my judgment, but something just smells a little fishy here. I mean, shouldn't Team Russia be calling for some kind of suspension on Sutter? I haven't heard anything yet on that front.

Update: According to Pierre McGuire of TSN, the Russians did call for a suspension of Brandon Sutter, but they didn't get it. In addition, there are rumours in Russia that one of the reasons why Cherepanov isn't playing anymore in this series is because of a confrontation with his coach. Apparently the Russian coaches called out their star players for not producing, and Cherepanov wasn't happy about this.

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