Kontinental Hockey League referee Rafael Kadyrov has died at 48, according to the KHL. Kadyrov was diagnosed in November with a brain tumor.
“We all live in a hockey family,” said KHL Chief Referee Alexei Anisimov at the time of his diagnosis, “and the disease of our family member, Rafael Kadyrov, we perceive as a common grief.”
Kadyrov had been a KHL referee since the league began in 2008. He officiated his 700th KHL game in September, becoming just the second referee to reach that mark, after Vyacheslav Bulanov. In 2016, he was selected to officiate the KHL All-Star Game. Internationally, Kadyrov refereed two World Championships (2009, 2010) and six World Juniors.
“We lost a professional with a capital letter, a colleague, but the main thing – a true friend, with whom we walked side-by-side for decades,” said Anisimov.
Kadryov worked 19 games in the KHL this season, with his final match coming on October 27, 2016 between Neftekhimik and Barys.
“All of us, the referees, the players, the fans, all hockey people today mourn this loss and will always keep the memory of Rafael Kadyrov,” said Anisimov. “His life and his career will remain a shining example of the highest professionalism, loyalty to the cause, and love of hockey.”
Kadyrov is survived by his wife and two sons, one of whom has followed in his father’s footsteps; he’s currently a linesman in the Russian youth league.