ECHL.com Note – The Portland Pirates reassigned Sean Blanchard to Augusta on Mar. 14 after this story originally appeared.
By Paul Betit
Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram
PORTLAND, Maine – If Sean Blanchard had a business card, it would read: “Have Hockey Stick, Will Travel.”
Blanchard, a defenseman with nine seasons of pro experience, made his first appearance Sunday for the Portland Pirates.
It was his 13th team since turning pro in 1998.
“I’ve been around and I’ve played in a lot of different places, and I’ve been lucky to play in a lot of different places,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of people and I’ve seen a lot of interesting things.”
Blanchard, on emergency call from the Augusta Lynx of the ECHL, spent the last five seasons playing in Europe.
“I started out in Finland in my first year in Europe,” he said. “I was there for about a month. Things didn’t work out there and I was stuck in Europe trying to find a place to play.”
He ended up with the London Knights of the old British Ice Hockey SuperLeague.
“I went to Britain and ended up liking it there and stayed there for two years,” Blanchard said. He lived in the heart of London, about 10 minutes from Buckingham Palace. “It was a nice area and it was interesting for my family.”
After that, Blanchard played two seasons for Ritten Renon, in the South Tyrol region of picturesque northern Italy.
“Last year I was planning on coming back (to North America) to play and I got a last-minute call from a team in Switzerland,” he said.
Blanchard ended up playing 30 games for Zurich in the Swiss B League.
“I spent most of the year with the A League team, but they had seven or eight imports and only five are allowed to play,” he said.
Last fall, Blanchard returned to North America. He spent a week at the Pirates’ training camp in Portland before his assignment to the Lynx.In 55 games with the Lynx, who are contending for a playoff berth, Blanchard had 14 goals and 31 assists.
“(The ECHL) is not exactly where I want to be career-wise but I’ve enjoyed my time there,” Blanchard said. “I get along with the coach and the players have been great.”
Blanchard has been an experienced option for the Pirates.
“He’s got that depth of experience at a lot of different levels, which enables him to be calm out there on the ice,” Pirates Coach Kevin Dineen said.
“We’ve had some injuries lately and the opportunity is there (for him). He’s been a real good player in Augusta. The Lynx have had a strong season and he’s been a big part of it, and this is a chance for him to get seen at the next level.”
Blanchard, who will turn 29 later this month, hopes to make the most of his temporary assignment to Portland.
“This year has been perhaps a little slower than I would like but I’ve been given an opportunity now,” he said, “and I’m going to run with it as long as I can.”