The hockey world got some terribly sad news on Monday. The Toronto Maple Leafs announced that prospect Rodion Amirov passed away at the age of 21.
Amirov, the Leafs’ 2020 first-round draft pick, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year and was in Germany receiving treatment.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) August 14, 2023
Amirov signed a three-year entry-level contract with Toronto in April 2021 after being selected 15th overall in the 2020 draft. He missed the entirety of the 2022-23 season as he underwent treatment and recovery.
Kyle Dubas, the general manager who drafted Amirov and announced his illness in 2022, released a statement through his new team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I am so sad for the loss of such a wonderful young man with so much potential,” Dubas wrote. “His unabashed positivity – even when faced with an awful diagnosis – will stay with me forever. Rodion was such an example of courage and I am certain that his spirit has touched and will live on in everyone lucky enough to have known him.”
After today’s preseason KHL game between Ak Bars and Traktor, the two teams stayed on the ice to honor Amirov with a minute of silence. Amirov played in 70 KHL games for Salavat Yulaev, starting in 2019.
— KHL (@khl_eng) August 14, 2023
Tributes and condolences have poured in from many around the game. Maple Leafs captain John Tavares wrote out his thoughts on X.
“It’s incredibly hard to comprehend the loss of Rodion,” Tavares wrote. “His smile and joy for life and hockey was infectious. My teammates and I are grateful for our time spent with him and forever inspired by his courageous fight. Condolences to his loved ones. We’ll miss him dearly.”
Capitals players Rasmus Sandin, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Alex Alexeyev, and Aliaksei Protas have all joined in on their Instagram stories to honor Amirov. “Rest in peace,” Protas wrote. “Condolences to family and friends,” Alexeyev added.
Amirov was introduced to the Capitals’ Russian contingent, which included Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, by goaltender Ilya Samsonov last year.
“Before the NHL, you only see Ovechkin in video games,” Samsonov said of the interaction to The Athletic’s Joshua Kloke. “But one moment will stay with him.”
Ovechkin and Kuznetsov both went on to hold up signs with Amirov’s name on them for Hockey Fights Cancer the next month.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 19, 2022
“From the moment he received the news, he refused to speak in the negative, determined to enjoy every day, facing it with the same positive attitude he showed during his hockey career,” said Amirov’s agent Dan Milstein on X. “We will always remember his courage, his desire, his will, his smile, all of the great things about him.”
It is we great sadness that we announce the passing of Rodion Amirov. Two years ago, Rodion was diagnosed with a brain tumour. From the moment he received the news, he refused to speak in the negative, determined to enjoy every day, facing it with the same positive attitude he… pic.twitter.com/ye6TdAjGZc
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) August 14, 2023
Rest in peace, Rodion.
Headline photo courtesy of the @Capitals/X
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