May 18, 2016

Sean Hill

Even though he played in nearly 900 NHL games, Sean Hill somehow remained one of the better kept secrets in the league.

Hill's numbers generally don't hint at it, but he was a good offensive blue liner. He had a good point shot and, as a right handed shot, could play the point on the power play. He had good offensive hockey sense. He liked to jump into the play or even rush the puck up the ice himself.

Defensively he became a reliable player in his own zone as he matured and got more experience. He was an average size defender but he had a bit of mean streak. He would never overpower attackers, but he had no problem competing for loose pucks and open space. 

There was never any doubt that Sean Hill, a native of Duluth, Minnesota, was going to be at home on the ice. His dad Bob was a star at the University of Minnesota and later the high school in Duluth. His mother Zoe was a notable figure skating coach.

Sean was drafted by Montreal in 1988. He would go on to play three seasons for the University of Wisconsin, winning the NCAA championships in 1989.

Hill turned pro in 1991-92 and apprenticed with the both the Canadiens AHL farm team in Fredericton and the United States national team in a memorable year. He would represent USA at the 1992 Olympics and then make his National Hockey League debut with Montreal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He even scored a goal.

Hill battled the injury bug in his rookie season of 1992-93, but all is well that ends well. He and his Montreal teammates hoisted the Stanley Cup above their heads.

Anaheim would select Hill in the NHL expansion draft in the summer of 1993. He would only play one season in California. He scored seven goals and 27 points, and will forever go down in history for scoring the first ever goal in Ducks history.

Hill then went on to play in Ottawa for three seasons before being traded to Carolina in 1997. It was with the Hurricanes that Hill enjoyed his best offensive years. In 1999-2000 he recorded career highs in goals (13), assists (31), and total points (44).

Hill, who also went on to play with St. Louis, Florida, New York Islanders, and Minnesota, made headlines late in his career when he was given a 20 game suspension for testing positive for use of the anabolic steroid boldenone. Hill always claimed he never knowingly took any banned substances, and that he somehow ingested it into his body through nutritional supplements. Regardless he would have to serve the suspension regardless.

Hill would return for a brief spell with Minnesota. He finished his career with a season in Switzerland.

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