ESPN Magazine, January, 2003: “Damage Control” by Gare Joyce

This story was written nearly six years ago, and this is the third time I’ve stumbled across it. The whole thing is worth reading.

Patrick O’Sullivan always looks for his father in the stands. He’s done it since he was a 2-year-old skating in Winston-Salem, N.C. He still caught himself doing it this season when, at age 18, he was the leading scorer for the Mississauga IceDogs of the Ontario junior league. And at the NHL draft in Nashville, before he even takes a seat, O’Sullivan will look around the arena, searching for his father.

But this isn’t Jim Craig trying to find his father after the Miracle on Ice in Lake Placid. On draft day, Patrick O’Sullivan won’t be the only one looking for John O’Sullivan. So will Patrick’s mother, Cathie, and an ready-for-action team from NHL security.

“I hope he won’t be there,” Patrick says, sounding more weary than angry. “I hope he’d know not to come with everyone looking for him, and with me not wanting him there. A perfect day would be getting picked by a team that wants me, and knowing my father is not in the arena.”

Scouts rate Patrick, a 5’11″, 193-pound center, as a top-five talent in the draft. There’s no better finisher in the pool. In the time it takes most players to recognize a scoring chance, Patrick’s already wired the puck into the net. He has the rare combination of near-psychic anticipation and surgeon’s nerve. Mike Bossy had it. Brett Hull, too. It’s the kind of gift that starts a father dreaming big dreams for his son. Dreams that can get out of control.

via Gare Joyce.