Former Quebec hockey player Gino Odjick died at the age of 52.
His sister Dina announced the sad news on her Facebook account on Sunday evening. The Vancouver Canucks, where Odjik played most of his NHL career, confirmed it moments later. He died after a heart attack.
“We spoke to him an hour ago, it was a shock to find out that he was gone so soon,” Dina Odjick admitted in a daily interview. Right. Our heart was broken, it went to the spirit world. He’s in Vancouver, but we’ll be bringing him home soon. »
Right also remembers that Odjick was in remission from a rare disease, amyloidosis, which reduced the capacity of his heart. Returning to his land in Maniwaki nearly ten years ago, he was saved by an experimental treatment combining chemotherapy and drugs at an Ottawa hospital. In October 2020, he announced that the disease had returned, but repeated treatments allowed him to regain control of his health.
It is with his tenacity that the native of Manivaki has left his mark, especially in hockey. First in the QMJHL, he accumulated 558 penalty minutes in two seasons with the Laval Titan. Then in the NHL, the 2,567 minutes he spent in jail still keeps him at 17 todaye ranks high in the history of the circuit. During a 605-game career that spanned 13 seasons in the 1990s and early 2000s, he was one of the NHL’s most feared forwards.
Known more for his shots than his points, he nevertheless showed some offensive prowess, scoring 16 goals in 1993-94.
After nearly eight seasons with the Canucks, he was traded to the New York Islanders in March 1998. He then temporarily suited up with the Philadelphia Flyers before finishing his career with the Montreal Canadiens. He quickly became a fan favorite in Quebec, but did not play again after the 2001-2002 season.
Gino Odjick of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation was born on September 7, 1970 on the Kitigan Zibi Reserve near Maniwaki in the Outaouais. The fourth child in a family of six, he didn’t learn hockey until he was a teenager.
He played exclusively locally before joining the Hawkesbury Hawks in the Canadian Junior League – Quebec’s equivalent of Junior AAA.
He performed under the leadership of Bob Hartley in 1987-88. Horse Right, the coach said that he lost one of his “favorite” “sons” on Sunday. “It was real; “It would be a 400-page book to write about his one year at Hawkesbury,” Hartley told reporter Marc Brassard.
In an email Press, then the journalist Yves Chartrand, who covered the activities of the Falcons, is enough. “He was scary and not afraid of anything! “, he wrote to us.
He then made the jump to the QMJHL in Laval. He won the 1989 President’s Cup with the Titans. After spending 280 penalty minutes in just 50 games, he added 129 minutes in just 16 playoff games.
The following year, the Vancouver Canucks selected him in the fifth round with the 86th picke Total. His professional debut did not take long. After just 17 games in the defunct International League and just turning 20, he was recalled to the NHL and never left except for a brief stint late in the course.
A friend to all
The Habs sent their condolences to the family and loved ones of Gino Odjick via their Twitter account. “Thanks for all the great memories, Gino,” she said.
In a press briefing after CH’s 2-1 win on Sunday, head coach Martin St-Louis reiterated that message, stressing that “Gino deserves everything he has in his life.”
Originally from Laval, St-Louis watched the tough guy’s transition with the Titans closely. “He took care of his team,” he said.
The news was met with great sadness in Vancouver. After struggling in the late 1980s, the franchise regained the upper hand at the start of the next decade, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. Star players like Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny are certainly at the heart of this resurgence.
Former teammate Stan Smyl, who became the Canucks’ vice president of hockey operations, insisted that Gino Odjick’s inclusion on the list was important. “No one was insulting these players because Gino was there,” he told local reporters in a heated statement moments after the fight’s demise was revealed.
“He was a friend to me and to all the fans in British Columbia,” he said, visibly shaken. Above all, he is one of the kindest people I have ever met. He also praised his great sense of humor and endless generosity to the club’s supporters.
“The role he played as a player was one of the hardest to play in hockey,” Smyl said. He was still there. He knew that when things weren’t going well on the ice or the team wasn’t ready to let up, he could stir things up and fire up his teammates. He could lead the team to battle by being Gino. »
“He’s one of my best teammates,” said Smyl, who played just one season with the Quebeckers. He remembers his first game like it was yesterday, when he dropped the gloves twice against Dave Manson and Stu Grimson, two of the NHL’s toughest bullies.
“He took this role with pride. He wanted to win as a Canuck,” concluded Stan Smyl.
Unlike Smil, Stéphane Robidas met Odjick late in his career. The former defenseman, now an assistant coach with the Canadiens, remembers the colorful character who worked out “while sitting on a stationary bike while reading his newspaper.” The first image that comes to mind? After the game in New York, he also said: “I just see that he has no teeth, he was missing both paddles.”
Robidas described him as “a guy who likes to have fun but is effective in training.” […] He had good hands in practice, a good backhand. »
with Right and Guillaume Lefrancois, Press