January 2003 Patrick played at the Ottawa Civic
Centre. It was a night he would never forget.
final confrontation with his father came after
a hockey game.
He wasn't having a good
night and assistant coach Washkurak could hear his
father's wrath in the stands. John was pounding
on the glass shouting to his son that his hockey
career was over.
JOE WASHKURAK: I remember that night particularly
because it was the worst he's been.
BOB MCKEOWN: How did Patrick respond?
JOE WASHKURAK: He was pretty embarrassed. A lot
of our players were looking at each other like -
this doesn't happen. This isn't supposed to happen
in major junior hockey. There's 10,000 people here.
A 24 hour service for children/teenagers who
feel that they're in a situation like Patrick's.
Call 1 800 668 6868
THE OTTAWA GAME
After the game John grabbed Patrick and forced him
into the family van for the long drive back home.
The tirade continued for hours.
CATHIE MARTIN: We just tried to get through the
next minute, the next hour. He was calling him names
and swearing at him and he'd throw stuff at him.
He was really bad.
John kept telling Patrick that his hockey days were
over. They reached the outskirts of Toronto just
before dawn where they had planned to visit John's
family. At that point Patrick had had enough. He
refused to go home.
Martin remembers the drive home from Ottawa.
Her husband threatened to kill her if she
didn't get in back in the van.
CATHIE MARTIN: John stated kicking
and beating up on Patrick at that point. Then he told
me to get the girls and get in the van and I said,
'We're not going."
MAKING A STAND
The next day Patrick filed assault charges against
his father. John O'Sullivan was arrested, plead guilty
and spent a month in jail. The court granted Patrick
a restraining order prohibiting his father from coming
within a kilometre of him or any hockey game in which
Cathie filed for divorce.
And at last, Patrick could enjoy the game without
his father's interference.
CATHIE MARTIN: I could see that weight was lifted
off of him within three days of him playing after
we left John. It was as if a light bulb had gone off
- it was amazing. Even Don Cherry said he's totally
different in the locker room, he's a totally different
But despite the restraining order, John O'Sullivan
continued to show up at Patrick's games. Several times
the police were called and John was issued another
arrest. At every game, Patrick wondered if his dad
would show up in the stands.
CATHIE MARTIN: He's been to court. He's been in jail
a couple of times. He's been arrested for violating
- it doesn't matter. It's like talking to a wall.
I don't care what happens to him as long as he stays
away and leaves us alone.
INTERVIEW WITH JOHN O'SULLIVAN
Now John Sullivan lives in North Carolina about 1
mile from where Patrick's mother lives. He writes
occasionally to offer advice on hockey and life. In
a recent letter asked Patrick to drop the restraining
order and reminded him that they share 'the love of
the sport' and 'the drive to be the best - at any
the fifth estate's Bob McKeown spoke to John O'Sullivan.
(read the entire interview online)
fifth estate's Bob McKeown found John O'Sullivan
in a Winston-Salem parking lot.
BOB MCKEOWN: Was that
the right deal for Patrick? To pay any price for success.
JOHN O'SULLIVAN: That's just the way it worked out
really. I wanted him to be a great player and he will
be. But obviously I went overboard.
BOB MCKEOWN: You admit that you want over the line?
JOHN O'SULLIVAN: I kicked him in the ass twice. I
got kicked in the ass a dozen times when I was growing
up and I deserved it every time. They charged me.
And I got what I deserved and I learned a lot. I went
to anger management.
BOB MCKEOWN: But is there any reason that you've given
me that would justify physical violence?
JOHN O'SULLIVAN: I know that you can't lay your hands
on anyone now. But if you would have told me that
two and a half years ago, I would have thought maybe,
you'd like to fight, you know?
John O'Sullivan says he's paid a high price.
JOHN O'SULLIVAN: I've paid the biggest price you could
and that's my family, because they're most important
But John O'Sullivan would continue to cast a long
shadow over his son's promising hockey career.