Maple Leafs think of Amirov during Hockey Night battling cancer

toronto– Rodion Amirov wasn’t at the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday, but he was on everyone’s mind during hockey night at the Toronto Maple Leafs against cancer.

Amirov, who was the 15th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in February and recently completed his fourth round of chemotherapy. The 21-year-old is native to Russia, and continues to recover.

“It’s a little different with our relationship with Rodion Amirov and his fight that he’s involved in,” coach Sheldon Keefe said Saturday of Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

Before the Maple Leafs hosted the Boston Bruins, they donned special lavender jerseys and put lavender ribbon on their sticks while warming up to support the cause.

Hockey Fights Cancer is an initiative founded by the NHL and the NHL Players Association in 1998 with the goal of raising money for cancer research.

“I think it’s very important,” Toronto Defenseman Mark Giordano Tell NHL.com. “I think the league has done a great job in raising awareness.

“Every team that participates and tonight we will have the colors in the warm-up and on our sticks. It is important that we get to know him because obviously everyone has had cancer or been affected by it. It is something that I am delighted to be a part of as a player but more importantly, I think the League is doing a great job in raising awareness “.

Amirov has many supporters as he continues his recovery, including the Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin.

At the Maple Leafs tournament opener on October 13, Amirov was introduced to Ovechkin by the Toronto goalkeeper. Ilya Samsonov, who played his first three seasons in the NHL with Washington. The three Russian players talked for 10 minutes in the lobby between the dressing rooms at the Scotiabank Arena, and Ovechkin went out of his way to offer Amirov any help.

“Alex, he’s a nice guy,” Samsonov told NHL.com. “He is very friendly with the hockey group … He came right away to meet Rodion. ‘Good luck, good luck and Rodion,’ he said, ‘If you need anything, just call me.’ “He just offered support. I think that’s great for Rodion, and he really likes the way ‘Ovi’ is played. So now Rodion has Ovi’s number and if he doesn’t, he texts me and I’ll identify it with Ovi.”

Amirov spent a few weeks around the Maple Leafs in October, when he got a taste of the NHL experience. It was included in the pre-match introductions to the opening game at home against the Capitals, where he was behind the bench alongside other players who were injured reserves at the time, and was announced to the public.

Keefe said on October 13, “He’s been around with us. He’s been to some of our meetings. He’s been in the facility. It was really nice to host him. Coming here, we wanted him to be a part of things and have some experiences.” with our team.

“You’re talking about the competition, here’s a guy who’s been through four rounds of chemo to be here and he still has a big smile on his face at the facility every day. He has the final fight here and he’s right over it, but he’s here and he’s enjoying his time here and we’re enjoying having him around.”

Samsonov said having Amirov around the team in the first few weeks of the season was as valuable to the Maple Leafs as we hope to Amirov.

“I think it was really important to us and him,” Samsonov said. “I really appreciated meeting him. He’s a great guy, he’s very positive. When he comes, he brings a lot of positivity to our team. He tried to talk to all of our teammates to say, ‘Hey, how are you?'” ? ‘His language is English’ [is] Not great but he tried to talk to everyone.”

Amirov told a Russian newspaper in August that he hoped to return to the ice sometime in November, although Keefe said on October 13 he had no update on Amirov’s possible return to action.

“I’m not sure what the case is,” Keefe said. “As far as I know, he just finished his fourth round of chemo not too long ago. His spirits are up but he clearly has a big fight ahead of him here. He’s working with our coaching staff and in the gym. On the ice with us so far.”

Asked again on Saturday if there were any plans to play Amirov this season, Keefe said, “He’s had a big fight here.”