Wednesday, October 15, 2008

North Americans could avoid KHL
Death raises questions about league's safety

"Definitely, thinking about it now, they don't pay attention to a lot of the little things that are an everyday thing in the NHL. You always see an ambulance here. They might have been there, but I can see something like this happening. For a [Canadian] guy like me, you'd think about it a little it harder now if you're going to make that choice to get over there."
But [TSN analyst Pierre] McGuire's "negotiation tool" comment and other KHL critics who are using this death as affirmation of the Russian league's inferiority are being irresponsible ... for McGuire to claim the KHL is somehow invalidated as an option for professional players because of this tragedy is complete hyperbole.
I'll say this much: North American players are certainly going to think twice about taking the money and playing in Russia.

There is ample evidence that there was extreme negligence in the Cherepanov case, from the lack of a working defibrillator to the absence of an ambulance at the game. What does it say when it's a life-threatening situation that required immediate action and there's not even a stretcher to carry him out of the arena on?

Now, there's even questions about what caused his death.

Former NHL star Igor Larionov is part of the KHL board of directors and has had experience with these sorts of issues. He was in the stands on the night Red Wings defenceman Jiri Fischer collapsed at the bench and knew something similar could potentially happen in Russia:
"I was sitting in the stands that night when it happened. I will never forget it. And I warned the KHL about things like this."
The fact of the matter is that medical treatment, in general, is not up to North American standards in Russia, and it likely would have taken something of this magnitude to improve emergency situation conditions for players in the KHL.

Even so, for a lot of players playing in North America, I don't think the KHL gets its second chance.
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23 Comments:

At 2:52 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush league hockey in a bush league country.

We should stop pretending Russia is a first-world country because it's not. To say it's even in the 19th century is being generous.

 
At 2:57 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger rananda said...

The fact of the matter is that medical treatment, in general, is not up to North American standards in Russia

what are you basing this on? while it certainly appears that the medical treatment given in this context was woefully inadequate, that is a very different than the one you make above.

good writers, let alone reports, should never make such broad and unsubstantiated statements. while there very well may be respectable medical journals that have looked at primary, specialist, and emergency care in russia and north american and drawn conclusions from the data, you have cited no such studies, and appear to be just regurgitating cultural stereotypes.

that said, what happened is an absolute tragedy. i had seen him play a half-dozen or so games and thought he was a special player. more upside than kane or turris for my money. the reports we've been hearing of what treatment he was receiving (smelling salts at one point?) are beyond upsetting.

 
At 2:58 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) We were criticized by many when we wrote last summer that we felt that a large section of Russia could still be considered a 3rd world country. There are ramifications to that, and perhaps a delay in potential life saving care is one of them? However, its too early to make any conclusions with respect to this specific case.
2) Some North American born/trained players who might have been on the fence about gong over to play in the KHL might now have a good excuse to stay closer to home. Time will tell if this affects anything. The only conclusion we make at this time is its a shame that hockey lost a budding star before he had a chance to shine

 
At 3:13 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger MotherPucker.ca said...

Yes this is embarrassing and disgusting for the league. I think that this will definately make NHL players open their eyes and realize where they may be playing. How about instead of Russia, they head to Japan, who doesn't have these kinds of problems?

 
At 3:22 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Here's some info on the Russian medical system.

This is very easy to look up on your own time if you wish — I obviously can't reference research papers every time I want to make what is a pretty self-evident statement.

 
At 4:29 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Hooks Orpik said...

Would Cherepanov been able to have been saved with North American doctors and medical equipment? Ultimately I guess we’ll never know.

In the long run once the emotion subsides, I think fringe NHL/AHL North American players will still be drawn to the KHL. Take Matt Murley who was set to make $125K in the AHL, with a decent shot of getting a call-up at some point--and a pro-rated $500k salary in the show. He signed to Russia for between $500k - $1m depending on reports. Is the extra money worth what could happen in some sort of freak accident (like a Zednik or Pronger situation) or terrible tragedy (like Cherepanov, Darcy Robinson or Fischer)? It seems cold to say in light of recent events, but I would still think so.

Thousands of hockey players in all the many leagues around the world play tens of thousands of games every season and while unfortunately it seems like too many scary moments happen, the number of incidents/game has to be minute in comparison.

That said, if incidents happen you’d obviously want to be in North America, but I don’t think it would affect an overall decision given the overall bottom line that a player like Murley can get 5-10 times a bigger paycheck. And hopefully if something good can some out of this sad tragedy perhaps standards for better emergency care can be instituted in arenas throughout Russia and the world.

 
At 5:20 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger rananda said...

I obviously can't reference research papers every time I want to make what is a pretty self-evident statement.

you'd think it was self evident that the us has a better health care system than morocco too. but according to the w.h.o., you'd be wrong.

http://www.brookings.edu/articles/2002/07france_dutton.aspx

self-evidence can often be a mask for racism or prejudice or ethnocentricity, or for the regurgitating the effects of organized state-controlled message (it is self-evident that the us supports democracies abroad and that our enemies like the ussr do not). that you're probably right in this case doesnt, i dont think, justify the harm from an unnecessary and unsupported generalization that prays on and elicits ethnic or cultural condescension.

what does "medical treatment, in general" even mean? i am sure there are some indicators, possibly infant mortality or something else, where russia has better numbers than the us. one indicator in which it would seem to not fare as well would be cardiac arrest treatment at professional sporting events. why cant we leave it at that?

 
At 5:24 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger rananda said...

i agree with everything hooks orpik (great name btw) said above.

 
At 5:27 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

But I'm not making an unsupported generalization based on "ethnic or cultural condescension." What I said was fact.

 
At 5:41 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't just emergency medical care at sporting events - it's also infectious diseases (tuberculosis is rampant in Russian prisons), decreasing life expectancy, alcoholism - there is nothing racist in saying that in general, Russian medical care is not up to the same standards as most areas of North America. It really started falling apart after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, as with no investment or central authority the system fragmented - and like any system with unclear lines of authority and priorities, the quality deteriorated. Their military underwent similar difficulties at the same time.

So far there hasn't been the push to invest in more sophisticated medical care in many areas of Russia. That may very well change - and I hope this is a push in that direction, but it doesn't happen overnight. Once a complicated national system is broken it takes a lot of time, drive, and effort to reassemble it.

 
At 5:44 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But I'm not making an unsupported generalization based on "ethnic or cultural condescension." What I said was fact.

Rananda said that you made an unsubstantiated generalization that "prays on and elicits ethnic or cultural condescension." The first comment on this post provides ample evidence of the latter.

I think you're being asked to uphold the standards of integrity and even-handed critical thought that have brought many of us to your blog.

 
At 6:56 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous ken said...

Rananda said that you made an unsubstantiated generalization that "prays on and elicits ethnic or cultural condescension." The first comment on this post provides ample evidence of the latter.

I think you're being asked to uphold the standards of integrity and even-handed critical thought that have brought many of us to your blog.


The first comment was anonymous, and one way for a blog to uphold "even-handed critical thought" is to disallow anonymous commentators. How ironic for you.

What James said was absolutely true -- the state of medical treatment in Russia is not up to North American standards. That's a fact.

He offered no negative comments about Russia or Russians as a people.

 
At 7:03 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Karina said...

Guys, the statement that you are criticizing James for is now linked to a supporting article. That's upholding integrity for all I can see.

If you don't like the statement that Russian Healthcare is below North American standards, take it up with TSN, not James.

 
At 7:09 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's make one thing clear: NO EUROPEAN LEAGUE HAS AMBULANCE OR DEFIBRILLATOR at the rink during the games.

But other leagues besides KHL do have guaranteed contracts and good insurances for it's players.

If you break your leg in Swedish Elitserien or Finnish SM-liiga you're covered. If you'll never play again you'll get 85% of your salary until you're 40 years old.

Switzerland (NLA) only covers your current contract and KHL covers nothing. You can have a three year deal like Radulov but if he loses his sight tomorrow he'll get nothing. Zero dollars. Nada rubles.

It's a shame that media is understanding these realities only after this tragedy. These fact have been reported here in Mirtle's blog since spring by some anonymous comments whenever KHL was hyped as some kind of super league.

It's all there if you want to dig them up.

 
At 7:46 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Doogie2K said...

How about instead of Russia, they head to Japan, who doesn't have these kinds of problems?

How many rinks are there in Japan? You don't get elite-level competition playing in a country where the only Western sport anyone gives a flying crap about is baseball.

However, if someone was teetering, they might consider going to any of the other Big Seven countries over Russia.

 
At 7:55 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"http://www.brookings.edu/"

The W.H.O. report this references was attacked from just about every quarter and largely discredited after it was produced in 2000. W.H.O relied on partial data, made political value judgements, and used voodoo statistical analysis:they admitted as much and no longer produce these "rankings".

The main reason the US ranked 37th was the lack of universal health care which is , of course, not the issue here. And in countries that claim to have universal health care, the reality on the ground can be quite different, ask any average Russian citizen.

Priceless, really, this guy accuses James of "regurgitating cultural stereotypes" and then proceeds to regurgitate a half-truth that his left-wing heroes have been peddling for years.

 
At 8:14 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous LeafsFan63 said...

Any chance we can send Ryan Hollweg to the KHL?

 
At 10:06 PM, October 15, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

Irony: complaining about "unsupported" facts and generalizations while in the very same comment stating:
i am sure there are some indicators, possibly infant mortality or something else, where russia has better numbers than the us.

...without doing 30 seconds of research to determine what the infant mortality rates in question actually are. The US has nothing to brag about here - it's scandalously high especially in some areas - but the Russian mortality rate is still 70% higher.

(and no, I don't think the CIA artificially inflates the US numbers out of a secret, socialist agenda)

 
At 11:48 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Don said...

Our community arena has two defibrillators (one for each pad), and when I was in High School there was an ambulance on hand for the entire football game (I would imagine it is a practice that is still followed). I live in a town of 15,000 people. Apparently we can afford these luxuries that the KHL can not. :S

I wonder how much information is given to the players about the availability of such services when they are being recruited to the KHL. How many players go over there without even considering this information? I worry about young players who may think something along the lines of "I am young, strong, and healthy. What do I have to worry about?" Unfortunately accidents do happen and players get injured or in this case worse.

It's about risk vs reward. For some players the risk will still be worth it, whether it is for more money, or simply the chance to play and show they can be an asset to an NHL team. How the KHL responds to this tragedy could be the determining factor that decides the value of risk in the equation.

 
At 11:59 PM, October 15, 2008, Anonymous Clark D. said...

Yes, Rananda and anonymous have embarrassed themselves here.

 
At 12:31 PM, October 16, 2008, Blogger Korn said...

While the Cherapanov incident is tragic, the thing that is going to hurt the KHL even more is the collapse of the price of oil. Down almost 50% from earlier this year. The Russians have been spending and acting (ehem, Georgia) like those days were going to continue forever. I wonder how soon players start finding that the owners who previously paid those paychecks with their oil wealth "forget" to send them their check.

 
At 1:43 PM, October 16, 2008, Anonymous Keith said...

I'll give Russian nationalists this, they defend their nation's honour fervently, regardless of what the truth is...

Anyway, on the main topic, this was something I was wondering about when Cherepanov died. The controvery surrounding the abysmal emergency medical programs in this case is a massive black stain on the KHL that will impact its ability to attract players. It is going to have to work hard to rectify this.

Shame a kid had to die first, however.

 
At 9:26 PM, October 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm upset because there's always "Ben", "Screwdriver" or "Sishkabebob" complaining about "anonymous" giving their opinions.

The only difference is this: Anonymous just gives opinions without getting high reading their fake name on screen. Even James Mirtle is almost anonymous because have you really seen him anywhere?

Russia and KHL sucks.

Best regards,
Pasi Perse

 

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