The miracle is that Gino Odjick is alive to hear his own tribute song.
A beloved Vancouver Canucks enforcer and giver of breathing room to Pavel Bure, Odjick was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder in June of 2014. He had suffered a heart attack and flatlined for nearly a minute. His death was expected within months, maybe weeks.
“They sent me from Vancouver back to Ottawa so I could go home to die,” Odjick told CBC News in March, thinking back to the doctors’ bad news. “Everything is in remission. Everything is good.”
Odjick turned to an experimental new treatment for his illness and is savouring each day. “Now, I’ve just got to keep hoping it doesn’t come back for the next 20 years.”
Canadian singer-songwriter Geoff Berner has released “Gino Odjick”. The song, plucked from the artist’s forthcoming Canadiana Grotesquica album, celebrates the soul of scrapper, heart over talent, capturing Odjick’s spirit with the chorus, “I’m just fighting to stay in the game.”
The tune also fires a shot at Mike Keenan, the Mark Messier captaincy, and wonders if Odjick was tempted to jersey the Pope.
“Odjick, an Algonquin, was a fan favourite because he played with such passion and determination,” says Berner, an accomplished accordion player and novelist. “The song is about someone who survived a violent system while keeping his dignity and becoming a leader in his community.”
The tune is accompanied by a mashup video by Andrew Pearson, who uses vintage news and game game footage of Odjick. It was originally written for Dave Bidini’s Hockey Day in Canada event in Whitehorse in 2011.
“Three years ago, doctors told Odjick he had an incurable condition, amyloidosis, and was likely to die within a few months. He underwent experimental treatment in Ottawa and, miraculously, survived with a clean bill of of health,” Berner says. “This incredible reversal only added to Gino Odjick’s mythical status with fans.”
Odjick, 46, continues his recovery in Vancouver and undergoes monthly checkups. He is featured in the 2017 enforcer documentary Ice Guardians, which raised money for the Gino Odjick Foundation.