Tuesday, 3 December 2013

When The Good Guys Need Help

There was some rather scary news that came out over the wire today about former NHL player Gino Odjick. It was reported that Mr. Odjick checked himself into a Quebec psychiatric hospital on November 30 to seek help. This would be the second time in the last three months that Mr. Odjick had sought medical treatment at a psychiatric facility, having spent a few days at UBC Hospital's psychiatric ward in early September. Needless to say, Mr. Odjick is battling some demons right now, and I'm glad he is seeking help for his struggles.

What might be the scariest part is that Mr. Odjick was apparently in a bad state of mind during Pavel Bure's retirement ceremony. As some may be aware, Gino Odjick was the guy who took Bure under his wing when he got to Vancouver, and vowed that no one would lay a hit or a hand on Bure. The two men were best friends, and remain that close relationship today. However, Odjick's business manager, Kumi Kimura, said yesterday, "He was way gone at Pavel's thing. We were walking on eggshells."

That's pretty devastating. Mr. Odjick seemed like he was overly happy to be there that night, but looks apparently are deceiving if we are to believe Miss Kimura. I thought it was weird that Odjick had shown up in what appeared to be a very casual choice of clothing despite the formality of the Bure retirement ceremony, but I figured that Mr. Odjick was simply walking his own path as he had done in the NHL. However, that was not the case as per Miss Kimura.

"We wanted him in the hospital until two or three days before Pavel's event so he would be calm, be rested and get on the regular meds that control his brain," Kimura said. "Our goal was to get him to Pavel’s retirement. He got there, but he walked out in sneakers and a hat when he should be wearing a suit. He knows better. That just wasn't him."

Some have said that there are triggers to mental health problems, and obviously the abuse that Mr. Odjick put himself through over the course of his hockey career could have - and most likely is - the leading factor in Mr. Odjick's struggle with mental health issues. There is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to concussions and concussion-related issues, but the science being done by a number of leading doctors and facilities around the world have really shown that brain injuries are incredibly devastating to players in the present and down the road.

Another trigger that could have caused Mr. Odjick some issues was the passing of his father, Joe Odjick, on November 25. Joe Odjick was his coach at an early age as Gino played through the minor hockey ranks in Quebec. The two had a tight bond, and both were very active when it came to Aboriginal causes. Obviously, it would be hard for Odjick to lose a man he considered his mentor. A man who was a blue-collar, hard-working man that assembled steel skyscrapers across North America for a living. A man who taught and instilled the work ethic seen in Gino Odjick that allowed him to live his dream in professional hockey at the NHL level.

There are statements, though, that just don't add up, making me wonder if there shouldn't be a more intense study done on Mr. Odjick. QMI Agency's Marc de Foy spoke with Mr. Odjick on Monday night from the hospital.
"With Marc Bergevin's help, Michel Therrien got me ​​an appointment with Dr. Vincent Lacroix, head team physician for the Canadiens," he said. "I'll take tests at McGill University."

I checked with Dr. Lacroix and Therrien, and the story wasn't true.

"First I've heard of it," Dr. Lacroix told me before the Canadiens-Devils game Monday.
It becomes a scary realization that Gino Odjick is confused and somewhat delusional from a humanitarian standpoint, and Odjick probably requires more help than he realizes. The fact that he fabricated a story about speaking with Marc Bergevin who got him an appointment with Dr. Lacroix shows that there is some sort of major problem that Odjick is battling, and he should probably remain in the hospital in Quebec for a little while longer.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Odjick at a Manitoba Moose game. He was very personable, an extremely kind and gentle soul, and he literally signed as many autographs as he could for the kids who came to meet him. There was literally no fan turned away, especially children, despite him needing to leave, and that's the kind of stuff that parents and kids remember about athletes. He is also extremely generous with his time in larger capacities, and is involved in a number of organizations that work to better the lives of children, specifically Aboriginal children, in order for them to succeed. As written in Hidden in Plain Sight: Contributions of Aboriginal Peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture, Volume 1,
Odjick is not only a professional hockey player and a role model for Aboriginal children throughout Canada, he also makes many contributions to his community. He runs the Aboriginal Role Model Hockey School for Aboriginal minor hockey players during the off-season. Through his school, he demonstrates to young Aboriginals the importance of teamwork, involvement in sports, physical fitness, having fun, and believing in themselves. He instills confidence in young Aboriginal athletes.

Odjick also lectures Aboriginal children on the dangers of alcohol abuse. He has received much praise for his anti-drug and alcohol campaign. The chief of Little Shuswap, Felix Arnouse, says that Odjick's message got the attention of youth and that many Natives stopped drinking because of his dedication and hard work.
Clearly, Gino Odjick is making a difference in the lives of children and in communities across this great land. Seeing him battle these mental health issues really bothers me because he's one of those guys who would give everything up to help someone else out, and those people are becoming rarer and rarer today.

I lost a good friend in Brad Drake to mental health issues. There isn't a day that goes by where something triggers a memory of Brad, especially during hockey season, and I still miss him dearly. I just wish Brad had sought help so he could have worked through his battle. With Odjick seeking help on his own, there is still a good chance that he can helped by a number of people. And we need to help him - family, friends, fans, coaches, teammates, and organizations. We're all in this together after watching one of hockey's better entertainers fade from the spotlight. With Odjick's battle, though, those who are suffering from mental health issues should know they are never, ever alone.

If you happen to read this, Mr. Odjick, please continue to seek help to assist you in battling any issues you may be experiencing. If you have any contact with Mr. Odjick as family, friend, fan, general acquaintance, or otherwise, please help him when he asks. Even if he stops asking, keep talking to him. Make sure Mr. Odjick knows he's not alone.

This is one fight where the former enforcer can use a couple of good "teammates" to come to his assistance.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Totally get that this old but came across it . Gino lives in my home town and he does have a heart of gold . The shirt he wore was a ribbon shirt which goes with the culture. I love Odjick as a player and as a person however, his family really needs to step up to the plate , with about 10 children there about 4 of them that are addicts , his family won't face that fact nor will he . I feel that he needs to be totally honest before he can help our community . Now with him sick , its still ashame that he is battling this in his life however, why start a trust fund for him , he has the money and so does his family , and he seemed pretty okay while driving around on the strip of the town . just wish people knew behind the scenes sometimes , just makes it phoney