By Chris Kuc, Tribune reporter
1:15 AM CDT, April 22, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The prospect of the season ending means different things to different players.
"It's really tough to think about that," Patrick Kane said about being on the brink of elimination, which the Blackhawks remain despite their 2-1 overtime victory over the Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena. "We feel pretty confident in here … (that) we have a lot of time left to play."
At 23-years-old, Kane has a whole of time to play in his career but it's a different story for 40-year-old defenseman Sean O'Donnell, who realizes his long career could be nearing an end.
"I've been saying that for a couple of years that maybe this is it," said O'Donnell, a veteran of 1,124 regular-season games and 106 more in the playoffs. "You definitely get a little more sentimental and you start to kind of notice things and think about things a lot. If I squeeze one more (season) then I squeeze one more. I've always valued and cherished my time in the NHL but the last year or two I've really kind of tried to soak it all in."
O'Donnell signed a one-year, free-agent contract with the Hawks during the summer and provided leadership and solid stay-at-home skills along the blue line culled from 17 seasons in the NHL. At this stage in his career it's a one-season-at-a-time approach.
"Maybe it's time to hang them up, I don't know," O'Donnell said. "One day I'll tell my wife I'm done and the next day I'm like, 'I feel pretty good, maybe we'll see what happens this summer.' Ultimately it's up to the 30 general managers out there to decide whether or not you can play one more year."
Mentally and physically, O'Donnell said he's prepared to play again during the 2012-13 season whether it's with the Hawks or another NHL team.
"I think so," O'Donnell said of making another run for a deal. "I've been fortunate enough to avoid that one big injury. I've had some bumps and bruises but I've been able to avoid the big ones. I feel pretty good at 40. I only played (51) games this year. It's the first time in a long time I didn't have to go through an 80-game grind. I feel good but we'll see what happens."
The Ottawa, Ontario, native said the decision to play again next season may not be up to him.
"Usually if no teams call it becomes very clear what you're going to do," O'Donnell said. "There may be no interest, there may be some interest. Who knows? You kind of have to wait and see what options you have before you decide what you want to do sometimes."
He did not dismiss a return to the Hawks, but said he hasn't even thought about broaching the subject of a return to general manager Stan Bowman.
"At this point it's not like I'm going anywhere and they have to lock me up because someone else is going to grab me," O'Donnell said. "We'll talk at the end of the year -- whenever that is."
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