- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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After 17 NHL seasons, Sean O'Donnell told ESPN.com on Wednesday he is hanging up his skates.
The 41-year-old defenseman, who played in 51 games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season, failed to draw interest from any NHL teams this week when training camps opened.
"I've been thinking about it for a while," O'Donnell said. "I wasn't shocked when I wasn't signed heading into camp. I was always hoping that when things got settled (on the labor front) that there would be an opportunity. I always figured if, when camps did open and I didn't have anything, I would pack it in."
O'Donnell, who is expecting his first child with his wife this spring, said he is comfortable with his decision after mulling it over for a few days.
"It's not an easy thing to pull the trigger on. Once you do it, you don't want to go back on it. There's nothing gnawing at me telling me to hang on anymore. It's time," O'Donnell said.
O'Donnell had 229 points in 1,224 regular-season games and won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
"I have some pictures around my house of moments right after we won," he said. "Those celebration moments still resonate when I look at them and you can get emotional looking at them."
O'Donnell played three seasons for the Bruins from 2001-04 and, as a 32-year-old veteran, made a strong impression on then-18-year-old rookie Patrice Bergeron.
"He was a classy guy, a real leader and he was really good to me my first year," Bergeron told ESPN after the Bruins practice Wednesday. "The whole team was, but O'D was one of the assistant captains and he really showed that right away. He made me feel comfortable and helped me throughout the year.
"A few times he and Marty [Lapointe] had me over for dinner and just taught me, showed me the ropes on how to handle yourself. I was 18 and they were in their 30s, so they didn't have to do that, but they did and I really appreciate everything they did for me that year."
Bergeron, 27 and entering his ninth season in the NHL, said he's impressed with the fact that O'Donnell played for 17 years.
"If you play half that then you're satisfied with your career," he said. "That's very impressive. And even at the end he was helping teams on and off the ice. I wish him all the best and he can be proud of his career."
O'Donnell was drafted in 1991 by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round, debuting three years later for the Los Angeles Kings, with whom he played his first six seasons. He also played for the New Jersey Devils, Minnesota Wild, Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes and Philadelphia Flyers.
O'Donnell said he wants to stay involved in the game of hockey in some way, whether it is in TV or scouting.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald was included in this report.
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