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Gino Odjick, beloved former Canuck, dead at 52

One of the most beloved players in Vancouver Canucks history has passed away.
Gino Odjick, beloved former Vancouver Canucks enforcer, getting ready to drop the puck for a ceremonial faceoff.

Gino Odjick was never going to go down without a fight.

That was true on the ice when he played for the Vancouver Canucks and it was true off the ice, as he battled a rare disease for nearly a decade. 

Odjick was diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis in 2014. It's a rare heart condition that was considered terminal. He was given months to live at the time. He survived and thrived for another nine years.

The Canucks legend has died. His sister, Dina Odjick, shared the news on her Facebook page and the Canucks confirmed shortly after.

"Gino was a fan-favourite from the moment he joined the organization, putting his heart and soul into every shift on and off the ice," said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini in a statement. "He inspired many and embodied what it means to be a Canuck. Personally, he was a close friend and confidant, someone I could lean on for advice and support. He will be deeply missed."

Odjick was a key component of the Canucks in the nineties, a hulking enforcer who could also handle the puck better than most enforcers at the time. That made him a staple on a line with Pavel Bure and the two became fast friends. 

"He was a very special individual," said Stan Smyl, who both played with and coached Odjick. "On the ice, he did what he had to do, but off the ice he was one of the most kindest human beings that I have met and played with."

A fifth-round pick in 1990, Odjick made the Canucks the following season and played eight seasons in Vancouver before getting traded to the New York Islanders as part of Mike Keenan's dismantling of the team. Odjick played four more seasons in the NHL with the Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, and Montreal Canadiens before retiring.

Odjick returned to Vancouver, which had become his home. He was frequently found in the Alumni Suite at Canucks games right up until this season, cheering on the team he loved and soaking in the "Gino! Gino! Gino!" chants that would inevitably follow whenever he was shown on the scoreboard screen. 

One of the most beloved players in Canucks' history, Odjick will always be a legend in Vancouver. RIP.