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The Rangers maintained a good relationship with Omsk and the club's general manager even though there has been feuding between the NHL and Russia's KHL.
The future appeared bright for Cherepanov, and the Rangers said he definitely figured in their plans.
"I was shocked when I heard. I thought it must be a misprint or something because he just had so much going for him," Pelino said. "He was someone who I was really excited about and thought, 'Wow, we did get something special here.'
"He had things to work on. We felt he had to become a little stronger still, he had to probably become a little bit more aware defensively. But as far as raw talent went and the ability to score, he was great."
Renney kept tabs on Cherepanov every few weeks by checking in with Jagr and new Omsk coach Wayne Fleming, who recently left an assistant coaching position with the Calgary Flames to take the job in Russia.
Renney said Jagr told him that Cherepanov could probably play on New York's second line now.
"Alexei was an intelligent, energetic young man, with tremendous talent and an extremely bright future," Rangers general manager Glen Sather said in a statement. "We are extremely saddened."
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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