Former Vancouver Canucks enforcer Gino Odjick says he has a rare terminal illness.
Odjick, in a letter published Thursday on the Canucks’ website, said he was diagnosed with AL (Primary) Amyloidosis two months ago.
“It’s causing abnormal protein to be produced and deposits are being formed on my heart,” said Odjick. “It’s hardening my heart and my doctors aren’t sure how long I have to live.
“Initially they thought years, but now they think it could be a lot less. I could be down to months or even weeks.”
The 43-year-old Odjick played from 1990-2002 in the NHL, including eight years in Vancouver and two in Montreal. He also played for the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, recording 64 goals, 73 assists and 2,567 penalty minutes in 605 regular season games. Odjick played 44 playoff games, all with Vancouver, scoring four goals and an assist.
The Maniwaki, Que., native was drafted by the Canucks in the fifth round (86th overall) of the 1990 NHL Draft.
“I feel very fortunate for the support I’ve received over the years,” Odjick said. “During my career I played in some great NHL cities including Vancouver, Long Island, Philadelphia and Montreal.
“In my heart, I will always be a Canuck and I have always had a special relationship here with the fans.”
Odjick said he was diagnosed with the disease two days after Pat Quinn was added to Rogers Arena’s Ring of Honour in April, and he’s been in hospital ever since.
Complete text of the letter from Gino Odjick as it appears on the Vancouver Canucks website:
Dear friends, teammates, and fans,
We have shared many great moments together over the years, but today I need to share news about the biggest fight of my life.
About two months ago I was diagnosed with a rare terminal disease called AL amyloidosis. It’s causing abnormal protein to be produced and deposits are being formed on my heart. It’s hardening my heart and my doctors aren’t sure how long I have to live. Initially they thought years, but now they think it could be a lot less. I could be down to months or even weeks.
I began fighting this disease a few days after Pat Quinn’s ring of honour night. I went to the hospital because I was short of breath and 48 hours later I received the news. I’ve been in the hospital under the supervision of some great doctors ever since. I also have the support of my kids, my sisters, 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 hear it from me. I also want you to know that my spirit is strong even if my body isn’t. I’m going to use all of my time to be with my kids and everyone I love.
I feel very fortunate for my life. During my career I played in some great NHL cities including, Vancouver, Long Island, Philadelphia and Montreal. In my heart, I will always be a Canuck and I have always had a special relationship here with the fans. Your “Gino, Gino” cheers were my favourite. I wish I could hear them again. You have been amazing.
My teammates became like brothers and am thankful I had the opportunity this past year to re-unite with so many of them. I’ll never forget my first NHL game against Chicago and my first goal. It also means the world to me that my hockey career gave me a chance to open doors for kids in Aboriginal community. I was just a little old Indian boy from the Rez. If I could do it, so could they. My hope is that my hockey story helps show kids from home what’s possible. I always tell them that education is freedom.
I also made some great friends through hockey and away from the ice as well. Life-long friends who have been with me as I lived out my dream on the ice. It made the journey that much more special and cherished.
This isn’t goodbye, but I wanted you to know what is happening. I’m going to stay strong and I hope to spend as much time with my kids as possible.
I understand the media will likely want to learn more, but I hope you can respect my request for privacy as I focus my time on my children and family.