Amirov succumbs to cancer
by Andrew Podnieks|17 AUG 2023
EDMONTON, AB CANADA - DECEMBER 29: Russia's Rodion Amirov #27 skates with the puck during preliminary round action against Austria at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rogers Place on December 29, 2020 in Edmonton, AB Canada
Rodion Amirov, the 15th overall draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020, died in Munich, Germany, on Monday night, about a year and a half after being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was only 21 years old. The young Russian had played for his country at the 2019 U18 World Championship, winning a silver medal, and led Russia in scoring two years later at the World Junior Championship. In domestic league play, he had been a member of Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL.
“It is we great sadness that we announce the passing of Rodion Amirov,” Amirov’s agent, Dan Milstein, said via Twitter. “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 showed during his hockey career. We will always remember his courage, his desire, his will, his smile, all of the great things about him. We’d like to thank his doctors, who took great care of him. We’d like to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs and his KHL - Salavat Yulayev Ufa team. Both did everything possible to help in any way, do whatever was necessary for Rodion and the Amirov family. And we’d like to thank hockey fans all over the world who sent notes of encouragement and best wishes over the past two years. They meant so much to the Amirov family.”
"Over the duration of his courageous battle, Rodion's positivity inspired everyone around him, and he made lasting impressions with our team and fans in his brief visits to Toronto,” added Leaf’s president Brendan Shanahan. “It's incredibly sad to see a young man with so much promise taken from us so soon. We offer our deepest condolences to Rodion's family and friends as we mourn this loss together."
Amirov grew up in the Ufa system and rose to prominence at the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, when he had nine points in seven games, including a goal and assist in the gold-medal game, a 4-3 overtime loss to Sweden. A year later, he was drafted by the Leafs and signed an entry-level contract soon after a fine performance at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton where he was named to the media all-star team.
He had the intention of coming to Canada and developing in the Leafs’ system. That never happened, and in February 2022 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, after which he never played again despite all efforts to receive all treatment available and stay positive. He spent time in both Russia and Germany receiving medical care, but he succumbed to his illness too young, never having realized his potential.