Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov has died less than 2 years since being diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was 21.
Agent Dan Milstein confirmed to The Associated Press that Amirov died Monday in Munich, Germany. The team said in February 2022 that Amirov had a brain tumor and would go to Germany for treatment, in the hopes of being able to resume his hockey career at some point.
“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,” Milstein said in a message posted on social media in English and Russian. “We will always remember his courage, his desire, his will, his smile — all of the great things about him.”
Milstein also thanked the doctors who took care of Amirov, as well as the Maple Leafs and KHL’s Salavat Yulayev Ufa, who “did everything possible to help in any way.”
The Maple Leafs said their organization was devastated by the news of Amirov’s death.
“Over the duration of his courageous battle, Rodin’s positively inspired everyone around him and made lasting impressions with our team and fans in his brief visits to Toronto,” team president Brendan Shanahan said. “It’s incredibly sad to see a young man with so much promise taken from us so soon.”
Toronto selected Amirov with the 15th pick in the 2020 NHL draft. The Salavat, Russia, native was playing in the KHL with his hometown team in 2021 before being sidelined by an injury 10 games into the season.
Then-general manager Kyle Dubas said Amirov developed unrelated symptoms over the course of his recovery that required “ongoing extensive investigations.” Amirov went to Toronto for four rounds of chemotherapy last fall and received an ovation at a Leafs game against Washington on Oct. 14.
Dubas, who drafted Amirov three years ago and is now president of hockey operations and GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins, said his new team joins the hockey community in mourning Amirov’s death.
“The optimism and amazing outlook on life throughout Rodion’s battle were unwavering and incredible,” Dubas said in a statement. “Personally, I am so sad for the loss of such a wonderful young man with so much potential. 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.”
Maple Leafs players took to social media in the aftermath of the news to express their well wishes to Amirov’s friends and family. Nick Robertson said Amirov “was a very nice kid and an even better player.”
“It’s incredibly hard to comprehend the loss of Rodion,” captain John Tavares posted. “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.”
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