#RIPGino - Goodbye, Gino Odjick
As a guy from the Vancouver, BC, Canada area who discovered hockey at the age of 8 in 1990, my 2 favourite players became The Russian Rocket Pavel Bure and Gino Odjick. Pavel was the electrifying goal scorer who could do things with a hockey puck that no other person could do, and Gino was the enforcer who could take on an entire team physically and end up with the last laugh.
Here's a prime example of what I'm talking about.
To quote the legendary, now-retired Vancouver-based play-by-play announcer Jim Hughson: "That's hockey!"
The guy was fearless. The year the Canucks went all the way to a heartbreaking loss in Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994, Gino scored 16 goals in the regular season, proving he could be more than just a tough guy or "goon."
I remember that year, a notable, local sports radio host joked that Odjick was going to be sent down to the minors if he kept scoring goals and didn't focus on his enforcer role.
A couple of short years later, Gino along with the rest of the heart and soul of that team were gone, either in free agency for nothing or via trade for little return, leading to the late 90s, perhaps the darkest time in the franchise's history and almost killing my fandom off completely.
I've never gotten attached to individual players on teams I cheer for like that since. They aren't called the Cardiac Canucks for nothing.
No Canuck team had more heart, grit and determination (or defensive depth) than those early 90s teams, and Gino Odjick was a big part of why.
I remember in some of my few trips to the Pacific Coliseum before it was replaced by GM Place, later renamed Rogers Arena, the rink would be full of 16,150 people all chanting "Gee-noh!"
The proud Algonquin partnered with the local Vancouver Musqueam Band after retiring from the NHL, before revealing in June of 2014 that he was suffering from AL amyloidosis, a rare disorder where the body becomes unable to produce antibodies. His heart in 2016 was said to be producing at just 60% capacity.
On January 15, 2023, Gino Odjick, the pride of Maniwaki, Quebec, passed away from a heart attack. He is survived by 8 children and 5 sisters.