Shean Donovan first played Junior A hockey with the CJHL's Kanata Valley Lasers. In 1991-92, he joined the Ottawa 67's and scored 19 points in his rookie season. After scoring 52 points in 1992-93, he improved to 84 points in 1993-94 and in 1994-95, Shean started the season with the 67's and scored 41 points in 29 games before splitting the remainder of the season with the IHL's Kansas City Blades and the team which had drafted him the San Jose Sharks.
Donovan was selected 28th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the Sharks and went on to make his NHL debut in 1994-95. Donovan would split 1995-96 season with Kansas City and San Jose, playing in 74 games with the Sharks and scoring 13 goals and 21 points.
After a 15-point season in 1996-97 with the Sharks and a three-game stint with the AHL's Kentucky Thoroughblades, Donovan was traded to the Colorado Avalanche after only 20 games into the 1997-98 season and went to play parts of three seasons in Denver before he was dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers early into the 1999-00 season.
The Timmins, Ontario native spent parts of three seasons in the Georgia State before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins late into the 2001-02 season where he had a short stay with the club before he was dealt to the Calgary Flames at the trading deadline in 2003. Upon his arrival with Calgary, the former 67 went on to break through with a career high 42 points (18-24-42) while helping the Flames reach the Stanley Cup Final, only to fall short in a hard-fought seven-game series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
On the international stage Donovan is was a gold medallist with Canada at the 1995 World Junior Championships and a gold medallist at the the 1997 World Championships.
Following his memorable stint with the Flames, Donovan was signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins on July 2, 2006. He spent a single season in Boston and failed to match his career high point total set in Calgary. With the Bruins failing to qualify for the NHL playoffs in 2006-07, the club opted to make some moves in the off-season and deal Donovan to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Peter Schaefer.