Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 32
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Sean O'Donnell has seen a lot of hockey during his twelve seasons in the National Hockey League. Drafted by Buffalo, the big, solid defenceman has enjoyed stints with the Los Angeles Kings, New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes before joining Anaheim during the 2005-06 season. Sean had been close to a Stanley Cup championship once before — the spring of 2001 when he and the Devils lost to the Colorado Avalanche in the Stanley Cup Final. Heartbreaking, but that's the fuel that keeps veteran legs pumping, hearts racing and minds dreaming.

This past spring changed all that. Now a Duck, O'Donnell was part of an outstanding defence corps that helped drive Anaheim over Ottawa in capturing the Stanley Cup.

For Sean, there was a tinge of vengeance when he took the Stanley Cup home to his hometown of Ottawa on Thursday, August 30. Too classy to rub salt into wounds, instead, O'Donnell enjoyed an extremely personal visit to Canada's capital.


Sean O'Donnell drops by his grandmothers long-term care facility for his annual visit, only this time, he visited with hockey's ultimate prize. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
When you achieve a dream, you want to share it with those who helped you along the way and, as a result, will revel in your successes most. Sean's first stop was to visit his grandmother at St. Patrick's Home, a long-term care facility. The affection was evident, as Sean had long intended that should he win the Stanley Cup, he'd bring it to show his grandmother, who had encouraged him through many an early morning boyhood hockey game. "I've been coming here for 15 years," Sean mentioned. "My grandmother's here. She wouldn't be able to come to see the Cup anywhere else, so I thought I'd bring it to her. She was pretty excited about it!"

The Stanley Cup had actually arrived in Ottawa early, and O'Donnell had called to see if he could arrive a little early at St. Patrick's. "I'm sorry, but would you mind waiting for a little while? Thursdays are our bingo afternoons," he was told. Sean could only grin. "Fine, I'll see you a little later then," he responded.

At the Ottawa Hospital, even Senator fans were pleased to be greeted by O'Donnel and the Stanley Cup. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
The Ducks' defenceman then took the Stanley Cup over to The Ottawa Hospital, where he walked the hallways visiting youngsters who were receiving treatment. The spirit of kids is amazingly resilient, and belies bandages and tubes. You wouldn't know that any of them had a care in the world when they got to see, touch and get a picture with the Stanley Cup. There's an amazing healing quality that seems to emanate from Lord Stanley's mug.

Sean then pulled up with the Stanley Cup to 24 Sussex, the well-known address of the Prime Minister of Canada. Once he was ushered in, Sean was greeted by Stephen Harper, his wife Laureen and their children Ben and Rachel. The Prime Minister greeted O'Donnell wearing a Ducks' jersey, one that been given to him during the Stanley Cup final by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Asked why he wasn't wearing an Ottawa jersey, the Prime Minister responded, "I'm wearing the Anaheim jersey out of respect to Sean. By winning the Stanley Cup with Anaheim, we have reason to celebrate, because Sean O'Donnell, a hometown boy, has brought honour to our city."

Sean O'Donnell shows off the Stanley Cup to the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
There is no doubt that the members of the Harper family are big hockey fans, but it certainly appeared that Mr. Harper and his son Ben were most delighted to host a visit from the Stanley Cup. It's been well-documented that the Prime Minister is a hockey historian of note, writing a book about hockey's early history, and is an active member of the Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR). Ben is quite a hockey player himself, and whenever his schedule allows, Prime Minister Harper attends his son's games.

The Harpers led Sean into their huge hockey room, filled with mementoes and artifacts. Sean studied some of the items in the room, and then had his picture taken with the Harpers in the hockey room at 24 Sussex.

After saying goodbye to the Prime Minister and his family, O'Donnell took the Cup to a family barbecue, where his Mom, Dad, sister Tracy and her boyfriend Chris, along with various other friends, neighbours and family members, waited for Sean to arrive with the Stanley Cup.

After a great visit with his family at home, Sean climbed onto a rented bus with the Stanley Cup, and joined by a number of friends, made his way to Ottawa's Byward Market area. There, Odie carried the Stanley Cup into Foundations, a wonderful restaurant and great place to party. Foundations claims to be 'Where business and pleasure collide,' and Sean certainly made it his business to give hockey fans in Ottawa an evening of great pleasure by celebrating with the Stanley Cup. Longtime friend, former NHLer Garry Galley, dropped by to enjoy the Stanley Cup party, which went very late into the night.

* * *

All Aboard! Sean and his friends join together for a photo in the rented bus that made its way to Ottawa's Byward Market area. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
On Friday, August 31, Sean enjoyed a second day with the Cup. After hanging out in the backyard of his family's Kanata home, twenty minutes west of downtown Ottawa and the location of ScotiaBank Place, home of the Ottawa Senators, O'Donnell walked over to the Jack Charron Arena, where he had at one time starred with the Kanata Valley Lasers. Sean arrived at noon and spent four hours signing autographs and having his picture taken with the Stanley Cup. Although there were a lot of Senators' jerseys amongst the crowd, it was evident that everyone was pleased that a local boy could achieve such success.

In the evening, O'Donnell was the guest of honour at a private reception at the Kanata Lakes Golf Course. As he gazed around the room, Sean saw former teachers, as well as coaches wearing the jerseys of the team on which he played. The party, attended by 150, included frequent toasts and great stories culled from Sean's days living and playing in the area, and went late into a most enjoyable night.

* * *

Next up, it's Bob Murray, the Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Ducks. We'll all meet back here on Tuesday for another chapter in the Stanley Cup Journal.

Kevin Shea is one of the contributors to 'Travels With Stanley' by The Keepers of the Cup, a book of geography and history lessons taught through the travels of the Stanley Cup (Fenn Publishing).

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