Gino Odjick was one of a kind. He was a true enforcer and an absolute nightmare to play against. Odjick played for the Vancouver Canucks for most of his career, where his main objective was to protect superstar Pavel Bure, a job he did to perfection.
Odjick’s journey to the NHL was unlike any other. He didn’t play in an organized team until he was 11 years old. Odjick, of Algonquin heritage, earned the nickname ’Algonquin Assassin.’ As a kid, Odjick realized he wasn’t skillful enough as a hockey player, so he perfected his role as an enforcer, and it took him all the way to the best league in the world.
He became a huge fan favorite in Vancouver, and although he didn’t score that many goals or assists (137 points in 604 games), he was extremely well-liked by both fans and teammates and even fellow enforcers.
Gino Odjick was special in other ways, too. He was superstitious, and especially about … water bottles. In his book ’In the Bin: Reckless & Rude Stories from the Penalty Boxes of the NHL,’ author Lloyd Freeberg, who used to work for the Ducks, shares an awesome story about Odjick, who’d just been sent to the penalty box for fighting.
”Odjick skated to the penalty box, wearing a big, toothless grin as if to say this was all in a good day’s work,” Freeberg wrote.
But all of a sudden, Odjick’s smile disappeared. Instead, he crumpled on the bench and looked like he’d just been kicked in the stomach. Freeberg wondered if he should call for a stretcher, when suddenly, Odjick leaned over and mumbled for help. Freeberg asked what he needed, to which Odjick responded:
”See that water bottle on the ledge there? Pick it up and set it on the bench right next to me, ok?”
Freeberg started thinking maybe he had a nasty wound somewhere that needed cleaning.
”Still hunched over, he continued to give me exact directions on where to place it. ’Right there. No, over a little to the left. Now back a little.’”
Suddenly, Freeberg had the water bottle on the precise spot that Odjick wanted.
”He abruptly straightened up and snatched the bottle, not saying a word and acting as if what we had just gone through hadn’t ever happened,” Freeberg wrote.
Freeberg couldn’t understand what had just happened. For the first time since arriving at the penalty box, Odjick looked at him for the first time.
”I just have a little superstition about water bottles,” Odjick told him.
And to say Freeberg was surprised would be a huge understatement.
”Here’s a guy who’s been in more fights than Ali, and a plastic water bottle has him terrified. Go figure.”