By Pete Stidman
By David Benoit
Special to the Reporter
The latest crop of cadets from the police
academy gave a welcome boost to the Boston Police
Department, and for NHL buffs, a nifty piece of
local trivia. More accustomed to wearing uniforms
bearing flames, ducks and Canucks, Dot Native and
former NHL Defenseman Chris O'Sullivan is now
officially a boy-in-blue.
"It's funny, at graduation [from the Police
Academy] I remembered being back at St. Ann's
School and remember sitting in first and second
grade and having officers come in and everyone was
like: That would be cool," O'Sullivan says. "My
dream was to become a hockey player, and I got to
do that and now I get to be a cop."
But it wasn't as easy as all that for
O'Sullivan. As one of eleven children, he was
surrounded by family members and by hockey. His
older brothers played at Northeastern, and Notre
Dame, and St. Anselm, and his sisters played too.
"I grew up with skates on me," he laughs.
His father worked for what was then Boston
Edison, and he worked a lot by the time O'Sullivan
"Growing up my father used to have to work 90
hours a week, if not more," O'Sullivan remembers.
"He worked underground."
But his father still took his kids to their
sibling's games and to Boston University to see the
When it was time to go to high school O'Sullivan
packed his bags for Governor Dummer's Academy.
People had started to realize he was pretty good on
"When I got to be fourteen, fifteen years old,
people were talking about me maybe being able to
get drafted," he says. "[It was] the
potential you dream of."
But when O'Sullivan was fifteen, his father got
sick and died. The oldest son, Kevin, went to work
for Edison. O'Sullivan himself came back from
Governor Dummer's and went to Catholic Memorial to
be closer to his mother. In his first year at the
West Roxbury school, his mother was diagnosed with
cancer. It was a turbulent year.
"That year was the year I had gotten recruited a
lot and was going through that," he says. Without
even have to think, O'Sullivan recalls the
specifics, good and bad: "My mother died on June 7,
1992, I got drafted on June 21."
Fourteen days to separate the loss of his mother
and the announcement of the NHL draft. His was the
thirtieth name chosen, making him one of the top
thirty players in the country. It was bittersweet
"That was one of the things
you wish your
parents were around for all of that. You hope for
times like that," he says now of the juxtaposition.
"It was a great day for my family, but kind of a
roller coaster for me personally.
"I'd say looking back, it was obviously one of
the toughest things, but going through with eleven
of us made it easier," he says. "I couldn't imagine
going through a thing like that with only a sister
and a brother, or as an only child. It helped to
have all of us together."
The O'Sullivan clan persevered, with Chris
capturing the high school state championship at
Catholic Memorial, and then heading off to Boston
University to play for the team he idolized.
"I grew up a BU fan since I was six years old.
Before I even began thinking of the NHL, I wanted
to play for them," he says. In 1995, his senior
season, O'Sullivan turned out an impressive
campaign and led the Terriers to a National
Championship. "We hadn't won the championship since
'78, so be able to do that was really special."
In the playoffs O'Sullivan was the voted the
Most Valuable Player. He also racked up a
conference all-star award and a Beanpot Title. He
still looks back on a team that produced a large
handful of NHL players. "There are guys on that
team that I am still best friends with."
After graduating, O'Sullivan went onto the NHL,
where he suited up for the Calgary Flames. For his
first game in 1997 his brothers were sitting in a
luxury box in Vancouver. After six seasons of
injuries and partial appearances with three teams,
and a stint in Switzerland, O'Sullivan retired in
2003. The last game he played just happened to be
"It was extra special to step on the ice in
Boston and with a lot of close people to me to be
able to see me," he says. "It was a very special
thing to come back to that building, back to play
against the Bruins was always a dream of mine."
After 2003, O'Sullivan came back to Boston to
try and return some of the benefits he was able to
receive as a kid. He started to help out more with
a hockey camp he had started with his sister
Stephanie in 1997, the O'Sullivan Hockey Academy.
He also helped out for a year at Thayer
Then a good friend of his told O'Sullivan he was
going to sign him up for the police civil service
exam, which he took in April 2003.
"Brendan Walsh, a cop over in Southie, he told
me he was going to sign me up, so I never actually
did it myself." O'Sullivan remembers not being
convinced the job was for him, somewhat putting it
out of his head. Walsh went onto the academy, and
O'Sullivan thought about it again. Then in January
2006, he got a call from his brother to tell him
there was a card to attend the academy. It was the
nudge he needed. "I got my card in mid-January and
I was up in Canada scouting, and that's when it hit
me that this was something I was interested in."
He went to the academy last spring, and while he
didn't have much trouble with the physical aspects
of the training, he did have some issues.
"To me the biggest challenge probably was
shutting my mouth," he laughs. "If I disagreed with
a coach and, not in a negative way, had suggestions
or arguments I would always go into his office and
tell him. And that is one thing I learned in this
job is you just shut your mouth and do what you are
Now O'Sullivan is out on the streets, and while
he doesn't have an official assignment &endash; he
will learn that Friday &endash; he has been
patrolling Downtown Crossing.
"So far I think I've been an information booth,"
he jokes. "You have veterans and rookies and the
biggest thing for me is fitting in again as a
rookie in the different profession. For me to go
into a different profession, and starting out as
the low man on the totem pole, and being wide eyed
and trying to learn form experience has been
And, no, he hasn't had any cross-checking
incidents yet, though the BPD press office does
announce "he is a great addition to the hockey
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