By Joseph O’Connor
The Vancouver – Calgary hockey series that is now unfolding must bring back memories to former Canuck enforcer Gino Odjick. The Algonquin enforcer as was nicknamed by Canuck fans, was riding shotgun for Pavel Bure on a Canuck team that would go to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating Calgary in the first round.
Gino hung up the skates two years ago while still playing for Montreal Canadians because of a concussion, the result of a puck hitting him in the head. He played his final years with the New York Islanders and the Canadians, but he made his reputation playing with Vancouver.
He is back in Vancouver, living on the Musqueam reserve and happy to be here.
“It kind of feel like it’s home, because I grew up here. I came as a boy and left as a man. Everywhere I went, I compared it to Vancouver,” Gino told The Province reporter, Kent Gilchrist.
He returned to Vancouver not only because he likes the city, he was offered a business opportunity that he couldn’t turn down. The Musqueam Band council hoped to buy back the lease for the Musqueam Golf centre and needed a partner with deep pockets.
Gino, who loves golf and was looking for a second career, jumped at the chance.
“I thank God I’ve had the opportunity to go directly from hockey to another job. A lot of hockey players don’t have college education. It’s a whole lot harder to make money in the real world.”
The official opening is not until mid-April but the task of administering the already popular course began as soon as the ink dried on the contract. Gino is up to the task working with eight teaching pros and developing new marketing strategies for a course that already is one of the most popular in the city.
He hopes to make The Musqueam Golf Centre the premier course of Vancouver and he has already started the upgrades.
“My challenge is to make it the best it can be and make the best return on investment for the band and myself. It’s a chance to create work for members. You know there’s a salmon-bearing creek here. I’m told it’s the only one left in the city and there used to be 50 at one time. I’m not here to take my pay out of it. I want to leave it in better shape than when I came.”
Gino takes pride in his new venture and surely his golf game will improve since most of his time is spent on the course. Of equal importance is the Musqueam Band taking on a venture that will bring in capital and create jobs for its members.
Last year, Chief Clarence Louie, as business director for the Osooyos band, opened the first Native-owned winery that has recorded a profit in its first year.