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The Official Site of the Philadelphia Flyers

Tough and highly respected longtime NHL defenseman Sean O'Donnell was born October 13, 1971 in Ottawa. Playing his junior hockey for the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves, the 6-foot-3 O'Donnell, who filled out over time to a well-conditioned 237 pounds, was originally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round (123rd overall) of the 1991 NHL Draft.

O'Donnell went on to play 1,224 regular season games in the NHL (31 goals, 198 assists, 229 points, 1,809 penalty minutes) and 106 playoff games (six goals, 13 assists, 19 points, 129 penalty minutes). He did so by never taking anything for granted, working daily every bit as hard and preparing every bit as thoroughly to be ready to play once he was an established NHLer as he did as a youngster hungry to earn an opportunity.

There was more than just brawn and physical toughness to O'Donnell, although he had those qualities in spades. He blocked shots, controlled the boards, cleared the porch, and fought many, many times. He had a good head on shoulders, too, which equally drove his longevity in the National Hockey League.

In subtle ways, O'Donnell continually learned and strived to perform his tasks better and more efficiently. O'Donnell was an outstanding communicator on the ice. As his NHL career progressed, he took fewer and fewer needless penalties and picked his spots in looking for hits because he cultivated his defensive hockey sense to a high level. He typically had good body and stick positioning on opponents. In general, O'Donnell played to his advantages and within his limitations, because he was such an intelligent and self-aware player. Racehorse hockey was not his game, nor was he going to zip a lot of stretch passes to forwards in the neutral zone.

Over the course of his career, O'Donnell became one of the game's most well-respected players. He was a valuable leader in the dressing room, and was adept at taking the pulse of his club. He was a good mentor to young players. Furthermore, he was also active in the community wherever he played, good with the media, and approachable to fans. 

After serving a prolonged (three season) AHL apprenticeship during his early years in the Sabres' organization, O'Donnell later played in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks, Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks. He was the first captain in Wild franchise history and won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Ducks in 2006-07.

The Flyers signed O'Donnell to a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2010. Former Ducks teammate Chris Pronger put in a good word on the Flyers to help convince O'Donnell to come back east while also advocating to the team that O'Donnell had enough left in the tank to help the Philadephia blueline.

O'Donnell spent the 2010-11 season primarily playing on a pairing with another new arrival, Andrej Meszaros. O'Donnell played an underrated role in helping Meszaros win the Barry Ashbee Trophy as the Flyers' top defenseman that season. Off the ice, many Flyers fans commented throughout the season on O'Donnell's striking facial resemblance to retired star left winger John LeClair.

O'Donnell dressed in 81 of the season's 82 regular season games and all 11 games of the Flyers' playoff run. He skated an average 15:26 of ice time (including 1:34 of penalty killing time) per game, was plus-eight at even strength and was credited with 76 blocked shots and 52 hits. O'Donnell was especially effective in the first half of the season, although the 39-year-old blueliner showed signs of wearing down in the latter portion of the year as injuries to Pronger resulted in heavier burdens and tougher matchups spread across the defense corps.

Although no longer a frequent fighter by this stage of his career, O'Donnell knew when to pick his spots. On a pair of occasions, teammates credited the wily veteran for providing a much-needed spark of energy in games that ended in comeback victories after Philadelphia trailed early. The player posted 81 penalty minutes overall.

O'Donnell left the Flyers as a free agent in the summer of 2011, finishing his career with one season in Chicago. After his active career ended, O'Donnell worked as a television broadcaster and as part of the Los Angeles Kings' player development staff.