Gino Odjick, one of the NHL’s most feared fighters during his 12 seasons, has died, according to the Vancouver Canucks. He was 52.
Odjick finished the regular season with 2,567 penalty minutes, ranking 17th all-time. He had 148 NHL fights, according to hockeyfights.com. In his first four seasons, he accrued 1,285 penalty minutes, including a career- and league-high 371 minutes in 1996-97.
The native Algonquin, born in Quebec, was drafted in the fifth round by the Canucks in 1990 and quickly became one of the team’s most popular players.
His fights included one against Adam Creighton of the St. Louis Blues in which he ended up bare-chested and challenged other players.
Odjick was best known for his fists, but he scored 16 goals in 1993-94 while playing on Canucks star Pavel Bure’s line. That year, Vancouver reached the Stanley Cup Final, where they were defeated in seven games by the New York Rangers.
Thirteen of Odjick’s 64 career goals were game-winners.
“From the moment he joined the organisation, Gino was a fan favourite, putting his heart and soul into every shift on and off the ice,” Canucks chairman and governor Francesco Aquilini said in a statement. “He has inspired many people and embodies what it means to be a Canadian.”
In 1998, he was traded to the New York Islanders. In January 2000, he received an eight-game suspension for sucker-punching Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.
Odjick played his final NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens in 2002.
Current Canucks player Ethan Bear, a native Canadian, said Odjick paved the way for other Indigenous players and spoke with him several times before being traded to Vancouver.
“I heard right after he passed that I scored,” Bear told reporters on Sunday. “That strikes me as quite potent. I mean, it was predestined. Perhaps he was present for me on that shot.”
Odjick claimed that the pounding he took during his career took its toll, as he suffered from concussions.
“I remember getting a concussion in the last two years of my career, going into Philly, and walking around,” Odjick said at a concussion symposium in 2014. “Everyone looked like Martians. They appeared to be from another planet. For half of the season, I couldn’t remember how to get to the rink. “I was completely forgetful.”
In 2014, he was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare condition that causes protein deposits in the heart. Chemotherapy put him in remission, but he had relapses.
In Maniwaki, Quebec, an arena was named after Odjick, and he was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver.