March 20, 2012; Philadelphia, PA USA; Florida Panthers left wing Sean Bergenheim (20) celebrates goal with teammate Florida Panthers center Stephen Weiss (9) during the 2nd period of game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Sean Bergenheim Making A Difference

Ever since he was drafted, Sean Bergenheim has always had a chip on his shoulder. Selected by the New York Islanders in the first round of the 2002 NHL draft, Bergenheim had to prove himself worthy as a first round pick. Sean played in only 18 games in his rookie season with the Islanders, and then was sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers which was their AHL affiliate.  He was sent down to the Sound Tigers to participate in the AHL playoffs, as well as  the lockout season of 2004. He spent most of the next few years with the Tigers until his breakout season for the team in 2006. His excellent play earned him another shot as a New York Islander. He tried to make the most of his second opportunity, however in the 28 games that he played in he only managed to ring up 9 points. The Islanders weren’t that impressed and as a result the two sides were unable to reach a contract agreement that would keep Sean in New York.

After receiving little interest from NHL teams in the offseason, Sean decided to sign a short term contract with, the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the RSL (Russian Superleague). After only participating in 9 games,  Sean was able to accumulate 5 points. However his Russian career didn’t last long. Sean decided to leave the RSL after those 9 games, and he later signed a one year contract with Frolunda HC, a Swedish hockey club. As a player in Sweden, Sean played great. He was able to rack up 33 points in 36 games, almost a point a game.

After his success in Sweden, Sean made his return to the NHL in 2007-2008, signing with the team that gave him his first opportunity as an NHL player, the New York Islanders. The Islanders decided to give him another opportunity and he took advantage of his shot.  In 78 games Sean had 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points.  When the season was over, the team rewarded Sean with a brand new two year contract extension. Sean started off the next season on a roll. He was on top of the world; he had just signed a new extension and started off the season looking like an All-Star player. However, his season took a turn for the worse. Sean fell victim to an injury and as a result he was forced to miss 26 games. After returning to full health, Sean continued his season and finished with a career high, 15 goals.

Although New York was great to him, Sean had decided that it was time to move on with his career. He left the Islanders after the 2009-2010 season and signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Lighting. Statistically, Sean had his best year as a pro with Tampa Bay, scoring a career high 29 points in 80 games. Even though he only scored 14 goals during the regular season, he decided it was time to “turn it up” during the playoffs. In only 16 playoff games, Sean shocked everyone scoring 9 goals and earning 2 assist. This type of play caught everyone who follows hockey off guard. Everyone was surprised that there might be another emerging star in Tampa. However after the Lighting were eliminated, the team decided not to bring him back for the 2011-2012 season.

Sean knew what it was like to be a free agent, however this time it was different. Teams showed interest in him. On the first day of July, Sean signed a 4 year contract worth $11 million with the Florida Panthers. Since the signing Sean has been nothing but consistent for the Panthers. Recently Sean scored his 17th goal of the season which is a career high for him. Throughout the year Sean has battled his fair share of minor injuries. However right now he is fully healthy and he is ready to play. The Panthers currently in first place in their division and as the season is coming to a close; Sean is getting close to his favorite time of the year, the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Panthers are hoping for strong play down the stretch from Bergenheim.

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