March 16, 2012
Gino Odjick: Tougher Than Saddam
Tough guy Gino Odjick, a.k.a. "The Algonquin Assassin," ranks as one of the most popular fan favorites in Vancouver Canucks history. The usually quiet Vancouver faithful loved to boisterously repeat chants of "Gino! Gino! Gino!" whenever Odjick hit the ice, or, more often than not, whenever Odjick hit a member of the other team.
Odjick had a special bond with Pavel Bure. Bure, often accused of being aloof and disinterested in the team away from the ice, had a unique and unlikely friendship with Odjick. Bure was the superstar hockey player from Moscow with Hollywood good looks. Odjick, a full blooded Algonquin Indian who grew up in poverty on the Maniwaki reserve in Quebec, shouldn't have lasted as long as he did in the NHL. But the two were inseparable, and Odjick acted as the link between the team and its distant superstar.
Life in the NHL was a definite adjustment for Odjick, but more off the ice than on it. Growing up on the tiny, close-knit reserve did not prepare Odjick for life in the big city. He was constantly getting lost among the skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver, and was ill prepared for life as an NHLer. For example, suits and ties are the NHL norm, Odjick only had a sweater until Stan Smyl took him shopping.
The reserve life left Odjick very sheltered. In a classic example, Odjick never had cable television on the reserve. Once in Vancouver, one fan held up a sign proclaiming "Gino is tougher than Saddam," of course referring to Saddam Hussein during the original Gulf War. The under-educated Odjick spent much of the night scanning the ice and asking teammates, trying to find this Saddam character in order to fight him.
Read the full Gino Odjick story.