In February, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the fans and the hockey world received some upsetting news as prospect Rodion Amirov was diagnosed with a brain tumour. General manager Kyle Dubas released a statement regarding his condition when the news broke.
“I regret to inform our fans that Rodion Amirov has been diagnosed with a brain tumour,” Dubas said in February.
“Rodion commenced the 2021-22 season with Salavat Ufa of the KHL but suffered an injury to open the season. During the course of his recovery from this injury, he developed some new, unrelated symptoms that required ongoing extensive investigations over the last few months.”
Hearing news of this magnitude is always difficult to absorb, especially for a young 20-year-old who wants to live out his dream of playing professional hockey. No one, young or old, should ever have to go through this process and endure this kind of pain and hardship. As Amirov underwent treatment, his season came to an end. Though, there is light at the end of the tunnel as one of the Maple Leafs top prospects is eyeing a return this season as he’s taking the steps to hit the ice again.
Amirov Maintained Positive Mindset
After recording 13 points in 39 games with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL as a 19-year-old, the Maple Leafs 15th overall in the 2020 draft was poised to take another big step in his development and make a significant impact in the 2021-22 season.
Amirov was already displaying the blinding speed, soft hands and mature two-way game that the Maple Leafs valued when they selected him. However, last season has been mired with injuries from the beginning as he’s only played in 10 games and recorded three points in that span.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, after suffering an injury to his collar bone and a concussion, Amirov went to Germany for a diagnosis and treatment that forced him out for significant time. He was able to come back and play, however, doctors saw something and they wanted to do more testing. After a game on Jan. 3rd, he experienced dizziness and blurred vision and was diagnosed with the tumour weeks later.
Despite the news, Amirov maintained high hopes and a positive attitude through it all. He thought of many of those before him who were diagnosed with a form of cancer and ultimately came back stronger than ever: including Brian Boyle, Oskar Lindblom and many others.
“I want to stay positive, and I want people to think positively about me,” Amirov said according to Friedman at the time. “There are many other people that have their own sicknesses or illnesses. I want to show by example that I can give people hope.”
The optimism and positivity that Amirov exuberated during this time in his life is truly encouraging. It’s easy to get down on receiving news like this, but it takes a great attitude and truly an abundant amount of courage and strength to fight and never give up in order come out on top. It was no doubt difficult but knowing that he has the support of his family, his teammates, and fans all over the world that he wasn’t alone. He had tremendous resolution throughout this whole entire time.
Amirov’s Return is Inspirational
After months of treatment and still doing off-ice training, in August, Amirov told a Russian newspaper that he was eyeing a possible return to the ice in November. Roughly seven months after his diagnosis, Amirov’s name was seen on Salavat Yulaev’s roster for their season opening road trip.
First and foremost, I’m extremely happy that Amirov is healthy and doing well after going through such a difficult time in his life. How can you not support and cheer him on after what he’s been through at such a young age? Second, while he has resumed on-ice training and made the trip, he hasn’t been cleared to play just yet.
Seeing this kind of news is a big positive for his health as it continues to improve. Given how serious his condition was, it’s going to be great for him to get back to the way he was before the diagnosis. Now that he’s on the ice, the hope is that he gets into game shape and continues with his development. Once he does get the go-ahead, it’ll definitely be a big moment for him once he returns for a competitive game.
While seeing him on the ice is a great sign and we would love for him to make an impact immediately, but that won’t be the case. It may take some time for him get back to form as his body is still weak from the treatment. It’s all out of an abundance of caution as he continues to build up his strength. Over time, I have no doubts that he will get to that point. This is all progression for him as he gets back onto the ice.
Like Boyle, Lindblom and even Ivan Miroshnichenko who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma all managed to come back from their battle. Amirov is now another player to do just that as his return is inspirational to say the least.
Amirov’s Diagnosis and Recovery Hits Home for Many
When the news of Amirov’s condition broke, my jaw dropped. I was in shock and disbelief. I felt a lump in my throat. I choked up. I started to tear up, mainly because this news brought back a painful moment in my life.
I don’t usually get personal, but a few years back, my aunt was diagnosed with cancer. Although tumours and cancer can be different, it still hit home for me. She would beat it the first time. However, it came back and sadly, she wasn’t able to recover. It was the worst news to hear, it was even more painful knowing that she lost her life and that she fought as hard as she could.
Whenever I hear this kind of news, my heart immediately goes out to them and everyone around them, hoping for the best outcome possible. After hearing of Amirov’s diagnosis, I– as well as many others out there– knows what it’s like to hear this kind of news of having someone close to you go through this process and see them embark on an uphill battle. Amirov is one more person who can serve as a beacon of hope that they can overcome this.
No matter what the odds are, the possible can be achieved and Amirov serves as someone who can. Whenever he returns, it’s definitely going to be an emotional and heartfelt moment, for him and his family.
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