CHICAGO -- He’s a "Seinfeld" fan, did his homework with a No. 2 pencil and his favorite movie is "The Godfather." Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sean O’Donnell is a little old school.
Why shouldn’t he be? He’ll turn 40 Thursday, and when he takes the ice that night, he’ll be the first Hawk to play at that age since Tony Esposito in 1984. As you’d expect, his teammates aren’t going to let him forget his milestone age.
“We’re going to get him a contact’s list of everyone’s phone number except instead of the guys in the room we’re going to get our parent’s numbers so he can have some people to hang out with after the game,” Patrick Sharp joked Tuesday after practice.
But after all the possible one-liners about O’Donnell’s age, there’s an appreciation for what he’s done in the league since 1994.
“It’s obviously an unbelievable accomplishment for him,” 37 year-old Jamal Mayers said. “He’s literally been in the NHL for half his life and it’s a testament to the type of competitor he is, teammate and warrior he is. He’s a guy you always want to have on your team. It gives a guy like me hope for the next three years.”
The players say they have “something planned” for his 40th birthday, but they aren’t saying. But since he’s a newcomer and it’s so early in the season, O’Donnell is getting a little bit of a pass when it comes to the “grandfather” jokes.
“Not yet,” Mayers said. “Guys are treading lightly. He’s a quiet, soft-spoken guy. You really don’t want to piss him off but it’s only a matter of time.”
Despite the potential for jokes, there’s an underlying jealousy.
“It’s impressive,” Sharp stated. “You look at guys like Odie [O’Donnell], [Andrew] Brunette, even Jamal, they take a lot of heat around here for being the old guys but trust me we all wish we were playing at that age too.”
• Although the Hawks had another fill-in goalie during practice Tuesday, Corey Crawford’s injury doesn’t seem serious. The Hawks would be calling up a netminder from Rockford if that were the case.
“We’ve got 25 [players] around and obviously 23 is the [maximum] number so that’ll be something we definitely have to look at,” Joel Quenneville said.
Brandon Saad can play in a maximum of seven more games before a decision has to be made whether to send him back to juniors, otherwise the first year of his contract kicks in. If he is sent back the Hawks will still have to make one more roster move.