Former NHLer O’Sullivan opens up about abuse at hands of father in new book

Then-Phoenix Coyotes forward Patrick O'Sullivan, right, dealt with plenty of physical and emotional abuse away from the rink.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Former NHLer Patrick O’Sullivan claimed he was abused physically and emotionally by his father, an allegation O’Sullivan detailed in his memoir "Breaking Away: A Harrowing True Story of Resilience, Courage and Triumph." The book hits stores on Tuesday.

According to O’Sullivan’s account, his father, John O’Sullivan had played in a handful of minor-league hockey games before channeling his frustration and unrealized ambition toward turning his son into an NHL star. Ten years of torment ensued until Patrick stood up to his father at 16 years of age, according to the book, which was co-written with Toronto author Gare Joyce.

Patrick O’Sullivan wrote of being fed dinners of Spam and baked beans by his dad. When the then-8-year-old failed to keep his meal down, O’Sullivan wrote that his father forced him to continue.

O’Sullivan also wrote of being woken up at night and forced to do "push-ups until my arms gave out … sit-ups until my stomach cramped." O’Sullivan claimed the physical abuse was ratcheted up a notch with each passing year as he was slapped in the face at 8 years old, kicked at 9 years old and punched at 10 years old in the name of "toughening" him up.

O’Sullivan said he decided to go public about his childhood in the aim of helping others.

"It’s important because the subject involved is kids, and they don’t have a voice of their own, they can’t change their circumstances, someone needs to do that for them," O’Sullivan told the Canadian Press.

"There’s a lot of people that don’t even know it goes on, it’s a very private thing, It’s not my business anyways.’ A lot of people don’t want to know because it puts them in a tough spot. They think they saw something, they’re not sure, they don’t want to know anymore. That’s got to change."

A second-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2003, O’Sullivan collected 58 goals and 103 assists in 334 career contests with the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers, Wild and the then-Phoenix Coyotes. O’Sullivan last played with Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League in 2012.