Ex-NHL player reveals terminal heart disease in impassioned letter

Gino Odjick, in this 2002 photo, revealed he may not have long to live.  

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/NHLI

Former NHL enforcer Gino Odjick has a terminal heart illness and might not have long to live. The former Vancouver Canucks tough guy revealed the news Thursday in a letter published on the team’s website.

“About two months ago I was diagnosed with a rare terminal disease called AL amyloidosis,” he wrote. “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.”

Odjick played from 1990 to 2002 and also spent parts his fight-filled career with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders. He stressed in his letter Thursday, though, that it’s Vancouver and Canucks fans who he’ll remember fondest.

“In my heart, I will always be a Canuck and I have always had a special relationship here with the fans,” he wrote. “Your ‘Gino, Gino’ cheers were my favorite. I wish I could hear them again. You have been amazing.”

The hockey world was hit hard by the news, especially those who played with and coached Odjick.

“He’s quite a man, and he’s fought for everybody else for long enough,” former Canucks head coach Pat Quinn said, according to Sportsnet. “Now he’s got to fight for himself, and I believe he’ll do it.”

Quinn also added that “off the ice, you couldn’t meet a more humble, big-hearted person.

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