According to TSN.ca, defenseman Sean O’Donnell has officially retired after 17 NHL seasons which included stints with eight teams including two with the Los Angeles Kings.
The 41-year-old spent last season in Chicago where he registered seven assists in 51 games for the Blackhawks. Despite being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres (6th round, 123rd overall) in 1991, O’Donnell never played for the team. Instead, he was traded to Los Angeles in 1994 where he went on to spend six seasons before being claimed in the expansion draft by the Minnesota Wild in 2000. O’Donnell would make history becoming the first captain in Wild history but only lasted 63 games as he was traded to New Jersey later that season.
After stops in Boston, Phoenix and Anaheim where he won a Stanley Cupn 2007, the stay-at-home defenseman was back in Los Angeles for the 2008-09 season to help a promising young Kings club get back into the playoffs and then some. O’Donnell’s presence back in the City of Angels was critical as the Kings got back into the playoffs the following season.
Now, after recent stints in Philadelphia and Chicago, Sean O’Donnell is officially hanging them up.
In 1,224 regular season games, O’Donnell amassed 31 goals and 198 assists which are the type of numbers you’d expect from a stay-at-home defenseman. His defensive style may have gone unappreciated to the untrained eye but O’Donnell’s contributions to the teams he suited up for were definitely worthwhile.
When Sean O’Donnell was first traded to the Kings in the summer of ’94, I had just finished the fifth grade. When I entered the sixth grade that September, my teacher from the previous year had become a resource teacher who the kids would see a lot of. What I remember most was her glowing about her nephew making the NHL, one Sean O’Donnell. I was glad to hear that the Kings had a new defenseman but being as if I never heard of him before being traded, I honestly didn’t have much of an opinion for O’Donnell with all due respect. It was also hard to get too excited considering the first-half of the regular season was canceled due to the lockout (I thought I was done saying that word for another decade – oh well).
Sean O’Donnell is a native of Ottawa, where I lived for much of my life. What I remember most about him besides his aunt teaching me was during the 1998 playoffs against the St. Louis Blues.
By this time, the Kings hadn’t been in the playoffs since going to the Finals in 1993 and after the Blues won the first two games on home ice, the series shifted to the old Forum where the Kings took a 3-0 lead. Halfway through the game however, O’Donnell pounced St. Louis’ Geoff Courtnall repeatedly punching him on the ice after the play was whistled dead. O’Donnell received a five-minute major and the Blues took advantage scoring four times, ultimately winning the game and the series in four-straight.
I quickly forgave O’Donnell for the incident although I wasn’t happy when it was with the hated Ducks where he won his championship. In fact, bumping in to my fifth-grade teacher shortly afterwards, she told me that she got to ride in a convertible with the Stanley Cup. Obviously, that’s such a great opportunity and I was happy for them but why Anaheim? Oh well.
Overall, I remember Sean O’Donnell’s tours of duty with the Kings with fondness. He never lit up the scoreboard but he contributed to the team in such a positive way. He was defensively sound and during the latter part of his career, he became more of a leader, guiding the younger players on the right path and reminding them, first and foremost, to have fun.
Sean O’Donnell will be missed but I wish him all the success in the world and whatever he plans to do next.
Photo: Courtesy of Zimbio