Shawn O'Donnell loves hockey.
“It's doing what you love for a living,” said O’Donnell. “I'm obviously very passionate about hockey and I think I’m very fortunate to be able to do this every day."
At 30 years old, the Nova Scotia native is into his sixth season of professional hockey. This is his third separate stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
"That's nice when you balance out some of the young prospects from top to bottom to have somebody that has been there, done that, has poise with the puck, understands the preparation that it takes to be in the second best league in the world,” said Wolf Pack Coach Keith McCambridge.
But that's just it, second best league, never the NHL. And there's no question O'Donnell knows what it takes, especially given his training partners in the offseason.
"Two of probably the top hockey players in the world, they're both exceptional at what they do,” O’Donnell said of his summer training partners: Pittsburgh’s Sidne Crosby and Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, two other Nova Scotia natives.
"I could go on and on about those guys, everything they do they're really helpful they provide a lot of advice but the main thing I learned is just the professionalism that they carry every day,” O’Donnell said. “You know they're just two of the hardest working players in the game."
That time on the ice reminds O'Donnell to work hard, but cheer for the hard workers just as much.
"All these different times I’ve gotten to play with a lot of players who have gone onto the National Hockey League and had successful NHL careers,” said O’Donnell. “It's great you get the younger guys in here and they're really passionate and they're hungry to go to the NHL and I just really enjoy that part of the game."