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Inspiring Athlete Rodion Amirov Eyeing Return to Hockey in November

Published on September 20, 2022

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Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February 2022. An athlete in his prime, the 20-year-old hockey player admitted that at first, he was shocked. He questioned how he could be diagnosed with a tumor at such a young age. But he refused to let the diagnosis impact his mental strength. Instead, he used it as an opportunity to show others the power of a positive mindset. 

Since his diagnosis, Amirov has been a continuous source of inspiration to cancer patients and athletes.  “There are many other people that have their own sicknesses or illnesses,” he told sportsnet.ca. “I want to show by example that I can give people hope.”

Rodion Amirov’s Hockey Highlights  

The Maple Leafs selected Amirov with the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft. A highly skilled and speedy left-winger, Amirov had a successful first season in 2020-21, according to ESPN. The Russian hockey player followed his draft year with nine goals and 13 points in 39 games in his 19-year-old season in the KHL, according to sportsnet.ca 

“After I was drafted, everything was Toronto Maple Leafs,” he told sportsnet.ca. “When I came to Toronto, I saw it all first-hand. My ultimate dream.”  

At the beginning of the 2021-22 season with the Salavat Yulaev in the KHL, Amirov suffered a severe hit. He experienced issues that resembled a head injury. “After the hit, I couldn’t concentrate, everything was blank,” Amirov told Russian Newspaper Sport Express. “There were problems with concentration, it was like I was shaken up. They thought that I had a concussion.”

As things got worse, he was asked to undergo additional testing where doctors revealed his brain tumor diagnosis.    

His Diagnosis

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas posted an update to the NHL website on Feb. 23, 2022 stating that Amirov was diagnosed with a brain tumour and would not be returning for the rest of the season.

“Our medical staff has been involved throughout the process alongside Ufa’s and we are in direct contact with the facility on an ongoing basis to monitor his treatment and care,” Dubas said in the statement. “Rodion has the complete support of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and we will continue to ensure he receives the best care possible throughout this process.”

During the Leafs’ morning skate on Feb. 24, 2022, coach Sheldon Keefe offered the team’s support to Amirov: “Our thoughts are with Rodion and his family. It’s a sad and scary situation. Everybody in our organization is offering and providing the support that we can.” He added that he was impressed by Amirov’s attitude: “He seems to be handling it very well, and he’s got lots of love and support around him.”

Soon after the diagnosis, Amirov was worried others would treat him differently. “At the beginning, we didn’t want everyone to know it, truthfully,” Amirov told Russian Newspaper Sport Express. “I wasn’t actually against it, but people close to me did not want to. One of the problems is usually people feel sorry for you too much, and you want to forget it, but people remind you about it.”

Rodion Amirov is Maintaining His Workout Regime  

Despite the dark news, Amirov has maintained high hopes throughout his treatment. “I’m living a normal life. I’m continuing to practice, to skate, to go to the gym. The doctors support [that] I continue on. I shoot, work on my hands, basically the same drills I would do normally, but by myself,” he told sportsnet.ca .“My faith in God gives me the strength and confidence to believe I will overcome.” 

Today, after seven months of tests and treatment, Amirov is traveling with HC Salavat Yulaev for their first road trip of the season. On Sept. 3, 2022, he posted a photo to his Instagram account of himself smiling and flexing his right bicep. The caption simply read, “I’m here”.

“Never give up,” he told sportsnet.ca . “The challenges you are given in life are for you to overcome. Always stay positive.”

Eyeing a Return to the Ice

While he hasn’t officially returned to play yet, Hockey News Hub reported that Rodion Amirov has two courses of treatment left and is hoping to get back on the ice sometime in November or December 2022.

More inspiring athletes:

Lead image by Augustas Cetkauskas/Adobe Stock.

The Author
Conchita is a Toronto-based writer with a background in journalism. She has written for outlets such as CTV, Avenue Magazine and Maclean’s. Conchita enjoys pop culture, travelling and jogging alongside Toronto’s waterfront.