the update online
AIRED: March 17, 2004
The past year has been
a good one for Patrick O'Sullivan. His team, the
Mississauga Ice Dogs is fighting for first place
and his is it's leading scorer. (visit the Ontario
Hockey League site to see O'Sullivan's stats)
O'Sullivan on the ice.
In January 2004 he played
the final game of the world Junior Hockey Championships
in Helsinki for team USA. Although it looked like
a sure win for Canada, Patrick scored two crucial
goals, included the one that clinched the gold medal
for the U.S.
Yet here have been many other years - growing up
- when hockey gave the best of times, but also the
PATRICK O'SULLIVAN: I've had to persevere in my
personal life and I had the crazy hockey parent
that was going to prevent me from ever going really
far in hockey. (Read the entire interview with Patrick
O'Sullivan in his hockey days.
Patrick's father, John O'Sullivan arrived in North
Carolina from Toronto in 1981 to play in the minor
leagues for the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds. Although
he was only a fourth-line forward, he was known as
a fighter on the ice.
O' Sullivan met and married a local girl, Cathie Martin.
Before long, they had their first child, Patrick.
He was the apple of his dad's eye.
CATHIE MARTIN: He always used to have a stick on his
hand when he was little. He used to be two years old
and he'd dress up like a hockey player in front of
the TV and do the national anthem.
Although John O'Sullivan's professional
hockey career had floundered, his son Patrick showed
a real talent for the game.
loved hockey from the beginning and had a
Now, John O'Sullivan had a new dream. He would help
his son reach the heights of hockey that had eluded
A HOCKEY FAMILY
To find Patrick better competition,
the family left North Carolina for his father's
hometown, Toronto. John O' Sullivan became Patrick's
a coach and drill instructor. At Patrick's games,
his voice was the loudest. He would shout out instructions
that went well beyond fatherly advice.
A 24 hour service for children/teenagers who
feel that they're in a situation like Patrick's.
Call 1 800 668 6868
CATHIE MARTIN: It was verbal
abuse. John's very, very loud, so when he would
yell at the hockey rink, everybody could hear it
and he was the coach on the bench.
As Patrick's game got better, his father's behaviour
got worse. After one game, John stopped the car
a mile from home and made Patrick run as punishment
for not playing good enough.
Cathie Martin says the abuse started early, at the
age of nine.
CATHIE MARTIN: Hitting, pushing, kicking, punching,
throwing stuff. If you got in the way of it, tough
luck. He didn't care what he did to hurt.
At 15 Patrick was chosen one of
the top players in America and named to Team USA.
His new coach NHL veteran Moe Mantha, remembers that
Patrick had a rare talent and passion for the game.
But he also saw that his father, John O'Sullivan,
O'Sullivan family focused on Patrick's hockey
MOE MANTHA: Sometimes parents like to live their dreams
in their kid's heads. And I think that was the situation
where John was so close but never got the chance.
Mantha had no idea how bad it was. One night Patrick
refused to get out of his uniform after a game. He
hadn't played well and Patrick told him that he was
scared to walk outside and face his father.
MOE MANTHA: I tried talking about it to John sometimes.
I always said two things are going to happen. One
is that he's going to turn 18, and he's going to kick
you out of his life. Or two, he's going to quit hockey.
THE MISSISSAUGA ICE DOGS
In the meantime Team USA won two world age-class championships.
Patrick was on the fast track to the NHL. He was drafted
by Canada's hockey godfather, Don Cherry, to play
on his team, the Mississauga Ice Dogs.
Cherry had hear rumours about Patrick's family, but
discounted them. He met with John O'Sullivan before
DON CHERRY: I thought he was a
great guy, He just seemed like a normal guy and hockey
Cherry saw Patrick's potential as a player
and discounted the rumours about his father.
But Joe Washkurak, one of Cherry's assistants and
a member of the Toronto Police, remembers John O'Sullivan
as loud and intimidating, especially to his son. He
recognized the signs of abuse.
JOE WASHKURAK: Patrick had some scratches on his face
and I said, "what happened?" And he just
looked at me and he says, "You know exactly what
Washkurak knew Patrick had confrontations with his
father but nobody realized how bad it really was.
PATRICK O'SULLIVAN: My dad would hit me.
BOB MCKEOWN: For what reason?
PATRICK O'SULLIVAN: Pretty much any reason he could.
A lot of it was hockey though. I guess he thought
by treating me like that it was going to make me a
better hockey player. It would usually come to physical
confrontation and the older I got, the worse it got.
PAGE: THE FINAL CONFRONTATION