With the NHL Entry Draft quickly approaching, LAKings.com sat down with Kings defenseman Sean O’Donnell, who was selected by Buffalo in the sixth-round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft...as an added treat, Buffalo hosted the draft that season and O'Donnell was 19 years old at the time of the selection.
LAKings.com: What do you recall about the day you were selected?
Sean O'Donnell: I wasn’t at the draft. I wasn’t a real high-rated guy. I ended up going in the sixth round and back then there were 12 rounds. I remember getting the phone call from my coach from juniors who was there. He told me the Sabres had picked me and back then I didn’t know if I would ever play a game in the league. The idea of even being drafted was quite a thrill.
LAKings.com: Since you were not there, how were you following the draft considering there was no Internet back then...were you just waiting for the phone to ring, so to speak?
Sean O'Donnell: I pretty much knew I was going to get drafted at some point, or at least I thought I would get drafted. I had never heard from Buffalo throughout the process though. As soon as it got announced, my coach called me and congratulated me. I don’t think he had a cell phone so he must have found a pay phone. When he called I was in my kitchen with my parents and a couple of friends. My mom opened up a bottle of champagne and we had a little celebration.
LAKings.com: What did you know about the Sabres and Buffalo at that time?
Sean O'Donnell: I had never been to Buffalo but obviously they have an amazing scouting staff. I didn’t know anything about the organization or anything about the city. What I knew about the Sabres had to do with Tom Barrasso and Dale Hawerchuk and Phil Housley being there.
LAKings.com: At what point of your hockey development did you see yourself playing in the NHL on a consistent basis?
Sean O'Donnell: It took me awhile. I played three seasons with Buffalo’s top farm team in Rochester without getting a single call-up which doesn’t happen very often. The year of the lockout was ’94-95 and I got my first 15 games played with the Kings. The year after that I played in 70-some games. I had a pretty good feeling after that season. I felt then I could play in this league.
LAKings.com: You have played for several NHL teams. Do you look at Buffalo, your original organization, like you do, say, New Jersey, Minnesota or Phoenix, NHL teams you used to play for, or is the Buffalo organization really sort of foreign to you now?
Sean O'Donnell: Pretty much the whole team and the whole front office has changed. They have a new arena and they wear new uniforms. I still might know one or two people from my time with the organization but there really isn’t anything sentimental about going back to Buffalo. Once you wear a jersey, and then go back and play against that jersey, I think there is always some sentimental value. But having never played a game with Buffalo, it just doesn’t have the same feeling for me.