“We grew up in Dorchester, a proud community here,” said Chris O’Sullivan, a proud part of what is fondly referred to as the "O’Sullivan clan" around the neighborhood that sits south of downtown Boston.
With six brothers and four sisters, the O’Sullivans grew up involved in sports, and involved in hockey.
“Growing up, there were seven boys and four girls in my family and we lost our parents when we were younger to cancer. My mother was 53 and my father was 57,” he said. “So as we grew up, and helped each other grow up, a lot of us played.”
On Wednesday evening, O’Sullivan and his family were gathered at Garvey Park in Dorchester in honor of just that - playing hockey.
They were joined by Bob Sweeney, Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and state and city officials to unveil the newly renovated Garvey Park Street Hockey Rink. Dennis Seidenberg was also on hand to show his support, along with Dorchester native, Florida Panthers forward and former Boston College Eagle Jimmy Hayes.
The $100,000 project was made possible through funding by The Coca-Cola Company, in partnership with Boston Parks and Recreation.
Along with the renovations, the rink was also re-dedicated in honor of the late John and Ann O’Sullivan. A sign on the fence surrounding the the facility now honors their memory.
The new rink, transformed from a basketball court, features new boards and a new court, along with bench, bleacher and fence repairs. It can now support more activities, including hockey clinics, tournaments and fitness programs. The Bruins Foundation donated equipment, hockey sticks and nets to outfit the new rink.
The project hit home for Sweeney, whose grandfather grew up close by.
“I have some fond memories as a little boy here,” he said to a large crowd gathered for the unveiling, part of a field day celebration that included street hockey and activities spread out across Garvey Park.
“This is a great testament to the O’Sullivan family, and especially for it to be named after their mom and dad and what this family means to the community. The Bruins have been strong supporters of community events and it’s extra special when we get to come to a dedication like a street hockey rink.”
“Bob and the Bruins are really helping the city of Boston in so many different ways, all over the city, in many different parts and things that they do,” Mayor Walsh said to the hundreds in attendance. “I also want to thank all of the O’Sullivan family for all of their great work here, too.”
“It’s just a great turnout today with all of the family friends and the community,” said O’Sullivan. “And the support of the Boston Bruins and Coca-Cola, and the support of Boston and Mayor Marty Walsh, everyone that contributed to make this day a great tribute to my parents.”
“We’re excited to re-open the rink here at Garvey,” Dorchester native Mayor Walsh proclaimed with a smile. “Several upgrades have been made making this rink more accessible and state of the art. This rink is a great resource for our neighborhood. This park is where kids play baseball, basketball, hockey and this rink’s going to get a lot of use, too.”
Children were running around the park and around the rink, shooting on Bruins’ mascot Blades, with O’Sullivan’s sister Stephanie right in the mix. She helped create the O’Sullivan Hockey Academy, which provides numerous programs including Learn-to-Skate developmental sessions and summer camps.
Chris O’Sullivan is currently a scout with the New York Islanders. He played college hockey at Boston University, where he was part of the 1995 national championship squad, and went on to reach the NHL with the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. His sister Stephanie played for Providence College and then as a member of the U.S. National Team for eight years. His brother Shaun played at Northeastern. Brothers Peter (UMass Boston), Mark (Notre Dame) and David (UMass) also serve on the coaching staff of the O'Sullivan Hockey Academy. Boston's largest neighborhood has produced plenty of hockey talent and bloodlines through the years.
“This is a big hockey community around Dorchester, and it’s produced several now NHL players and currently Jimmy Hayes from the Florida Panthers and Kevin Hayes from the New York Rangers, so it’s a very proud community,” he said. “And a lot of hockey people that have dedicated their time, effort, energy to the kids around the community, so I’m very privileged to be here and be honoring my parents with this.”
“And I thank the Mayor once again and the City of Boston for doing this and making it a great facility for young kids around and for everyone to join in on. It’s a great day of celebration.”
The evening also included an autograph session with Seidenberg and Hayes, with the children mostly sporting Black and Gold t-shirts featuring the Spoked-B on the front.
“[Chris] asked me to help him out and come by for the reopening of this park and it’s a fun thing to do, being outside and helping his family out,” said Seidenberg, who has been around Boston with his family since the end of the season. “The Bruins are always involved and that’s no news for us - the Bruins and the Foundation do a whole lot for the whole community and it’s great to see.”
“This has been very overwhelming for us,” Shaun O’Sullivan said to those gathered at the event. “My mother and father believed in sports education, family and community. They would be very proud to see a venue such as this that will provide competitive playing field that will grow sportsmanship, competition and physical education.”
“It builds important life skills for all kids. Sports, especially hockey, was always an enjoyed activity in the family and led to many opportunities. My siblings Stephanie and Chris would [go on to] form O’Sullivan Hockey that serves as a grassroots program for Learn-to-Skate and development.”
“Please utilize and enjoy this great gift, and the spirit of this special event.”
There are many hockey fans, players, rinks and families throughout Boston, New England and beyond. For at least one night, the Bruins, Sweeney, Seidenberg and the City of Boston joined in to support one of those families, and one of those communities.
“Just coming from a hockey raised family, it was something that was great for the town and the city to do to honor my parents with the dedication,” said Chris O’Sullivan. “This community here in Dorchester…We have a ton of guys that went on to play Division I Hockey and some in the American League and a few that have gone on to play in the NHL and once again, to have the Boston Bruins be involved, is a tremendous tribute to my parents, my family and the whole community.”