June 26 2014 09:23PM
This is sad.
We've been worried about Gino Odjick's health from some time now, but the legendary Canuck tough guy confirmed by way of a letter published by the team website that he's been diagnosed with a terminal disease called AL amyloidosis, causing the body's antibody-producing cells to not function properly. Per Odjick, he could be down to "months or weeks".
I was diagnosed with this disease a few days after Pat Quinn’s ring of honour night. 48 hours later I received the news and I’ve been in the hospital under the supervision of some great doctors ever since.
I also have the support of my family and some great friends.I’m telling you about this now because news is beginning to leak out and I wanted you to know the truth and hear it from me personally.
Rumours have been long circulating about the state of Odjick's health. It was known that he'd been hospitalized since Pavel Bure's induction ceremony, but the latest illness was diagnosed just this past spring.
Everybody born a Canuck fan has positive memories of Gino. Gino was a strong personality in a sport that deliberately avoids personality. Gino was a rare aboriginal player in a sport that attracts very few non-white people. Gino was the portrait of hockey, from a small Canadian town, to a long career in the NHL, playing in front of hundreds and thousands of fans who have chanted his name at some point in their lives.
Odjick has spent time, per Ed Willes, receiving visits in the hospital from former Canuck teammates Quinn, Garry Valk, Kirk McLean, Geoff Courtnall, Stan Smyl, and team President Trevor Linden. It's unfathomable to think that given the chance, the Canucks won't look to find a way to honour Odjick one last time.
The Willes story is worth a read. Odjick, since his retirement and beginning of his health issues, has been very confident about what lays ahead. From believing he'll live until 150, to eradicating First Nations poverty, Odjick isn't convinced he, after all that's happened, doesn't have any more to give to this world.
For now though, it sounds like he'll go back East to spend some time with his family. Through the Canucks, he asked the media respect him and his family and avoid speculation on his condition. The Canucks website currently has links to the Gino Strong fund, a fund set up to help the Odjick family pay for expenses during his extended hospital stay.