British Columbia

Gino Odjick was supposed to be dead but instead he's hosting a film about NHL tough guys

Three years ago doctors told Gino Odjick he had just months to live but the former Canucks' tough guy has no intention of dying anytime soon.

3 years ago doctors told the beloved Canucks' tough guy he had just months to live

Gino Odjick (centre) poses with fellow Canucks alumni in April 2016. From left to right; Jyrki Lumme, Cliff Ronning, Odjick, Dave Babych, Kirk McLean. (Halaw Group/Twitter)

He beat the odds by making it to the NHL.

Now, it seems Gino Odjick has beaten death. 

Odjick will take part in a question and answer at tonight's screening of Ice Guardians, a documentary featuring over a dozen NHL tough guys, including the former Canucks' enforcer himself. 

His appearance is remarkable considering three years ago Odjick was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition and given just months to live. 

An ill Gino Odjick is wheeled out from Vancouver General Hospital to greet hundreds of fans on Sunday June 29, 2014. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

"They sent me from Vancouver back to Ottawa so I could go home to die," Odjick said, remembering back to June of 2014. 

But instead of living out his last days where he grew up, going home ended up saving his life. 

On arrival, doctors in Ottawa started an experimental treatment for Odjick's disease, known as terminal amyloidosis.

It turned out to be nothing short of miraculous.

"Everything is in remission. Everything is good," he told the CBC's Early Edition. "Now, I've just got to keep hoping it doesn't come back for the next 20 years."

A portion of the money raised tonight will go to the Gino Odjick Foundation which helps fund trades training for First Nations youth.

'It changed my life'

"We're hoping to help out many in First Nations to get a job and earn a living and be a part of society," he said. "I had an opportunity to earn a living and it changed my life around." 

Odjick's unlikely story — from the small Algonquin reserve of Kitigan Zibi to the bright lights of the NHL —  is well chronicled.

He is beloved in Vancouver for the fearlessness he showed in standing up for his Canucks' teammates, especially Pavel Bure.

A woman cheers and holds a sign as hundreds of fans gather in support of Vancouver Canucks' enforcer Gino Odjick outside Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday June 29, 2014. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

But the 46-year-old admits if he were coming up in today's game, there might not be a job for him.

Enforcers a 'lost art'

"The enforcer role has almost been abolished. Teams don't carry enforcers on the fourth line anymore, they tend to go with more skill," he said.

"It makes it hard on the stars, because if someone takes a liberty, there's not much they can do to defend themselves. When I played and someone roughed up the star and the referee didn't call it, you had to take it into your own hands," he said.

"It's a lost art, that's for sure."

Ice Guardians screens at 8 p.m. PT at the Rio Theater.


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