Let's start today on a serious note, with the news that the disease which left Gino Odjick fighting for his life a few years ago has returned.
The Ottawa-area French-language paper Le Droit spoke with Gino about these recent developments. Google translate does a good job of letting the rest of us know what's up — but please keep in mind that all quotes below are translated.
As you may remember, Gino's life was saved in 2014 thanks to an experimental treatment that he underwent in Ottawa, about 100 miles south of his childhood home at the Kitigan Zibi reserve, near Maniwaki, Quebec.
"The doctors tell me it could come back. I just hope it will be in 20 years," he said at the time.
Regular testing revealed about a month ago that the amyloidosis has indeed returned. Odjick is in treatment in Vancouver, as Covid makes travel back to Ottawa risky.
"They (his doctors) found it early, so I'm very confident that I will be able to get rid of it," Odjick told writer Marc Brassard.
"It was a shock, but what do you want to do ... There were several treatment options, but I asked to follow the same one I had in Ottawa as it had worked. I'm on 'chemo' for the next six months."
In the article, Gino goes on to talk about the roaring cheers that he has continued to receive from Vancouver fans any time he takes to the ice for a special occasion at Rogers Arena.
Odjick has been a fixture in the press box, both before and after his illness. The article also mentions that over the years, he has served the Aquilinis in a business role.
"Always proud of his ties with the First Nations, Odjick worked for the owners of the team, the Aquilini family, liaising with the various Indigenous Nations in British Columbia to acquire land for real estate development."
In recent years, he has also operated the Musqueam Golf Course in Vancouver, but the Musqueam Band Council recently exercised its option to re-acquire the rental lease.
"I would have liked to continue and keep it forever, but it was theirs, that's okay," said Odjick, who stopped playing himself, joking that he "lost his athletic ability" due to his illness. “I'm not able to hit the ball anymore!” He says, he who is the coach of the Canucks alumni team since he can no longer play hockey either.
In a separate article
with Le Droit
, Odjick talked about his 19-year-old son Tobias Commanda Odjick, whose hockey development path has been challenged by Covid.
This season, Tobias has landed with the Campbellton Tigers of the Maritimes Junior A League, where one-time Odjick dance partner Sandy McCarthy is now head coach and assistant general manager.
Last season, Tobias played for the Blizzard of the OCN (Opaskwayak Cree Nation). Here's how Gino describes his son's game — delightfully adapted by Google Translate:
Last year with OCN, the 5 '11' ', 180 pounds forward, born in Kitigan Zibi, amassed 6 goals, 12 assists and 108 penalty minutes in 33 games, in this circuit where players can not let go of the gloves. more than once per game, at the risk of being sent off.
"I'd rather he picked up points to be able to get a scholarship in the United States." There are no battles in American college hockey, so he better concentrate on playing hockey, ”says the former badass who was the protector of Pavel Bure (another of his sons has Bure as a first name).
Best wishes to Gino. Here's hoping he can use his inimitable strength to beat his disease once again.
Elsewhere, there were a few minor bits of Canucks news to emerge over the last few days:
• Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt have selected their new numbers:
Holtby wore No. 70 in Washington, which is Tanner Pearson's number with the Canucks.
Darren Archibald wore No. 49 when he was with the Canucks. According to Hockey Reference,
10 players wore 49 around the NHL last season, most notably Sam Girard in Colorado, Joel Farabee in Philadelphia and Ivan Barbashev in St. Louis.
No goalie of note has ever worn 49. It'll be interesting to hear from Holtby why he chose the number.
As for Schmidt, he's hanging onto the No. 88 that he has worn throughout his NHL career. Of course, Adam Gaudette has worn that for his last two-and-a-bit seasons with the Canucks, but it's likely that he'll now grab the recently vacated No. 8, which he wore during his three years at Northeastern University.
A bounty is often paid to persuade a player to switch numbers — watches and vacations seem to be common currency. With Gaudette likely to get squeezed by salary-cap considerations when he signs his next contract out of restricted free agency, and Schmidt coming off a season in which he was paid $8.8 million in real dollars, I'm sure both sides were happy to come to an agreement.
• Finally — the Canucks announced on Friday that they've come to terms on a new one-year, two-way contract with goaltender Jake Kielly. After three seasons with Clarkson University, Kielly spent most of last season with the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL but did well in his two games with the Utica Comets, amassing a 1.87 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. Kielly was also briefly recalled by the Canucks this summer, serving as the reserve goalie behind Thatcher Demko and Louis Domingue after Jacob Markstrom was injured.
Now 24, Kielly's new deal will pay him $85,000 at the minor-league level and $700,000 if he gets an NHL call up.