by Mike Ulmer
What do you do when you are traded before you play your first National Hockey League game?
Well, if you’re Patrick O’Sullivan, a member of the Planet USA team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, you scratch your head for a minute and get on with your life.
TThe All-Star Classic will be held on Jan. 28-29 at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, and O’Sullivan figures to be there.
After scoring an astonishing 47 goals and winning the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award for top AHL rookie in 2005-06, O’Sullivan was traded to the Los Angeles Kings last summer. The Minnesota Wild sent the native of Winston-Salem, N.C. and a first round draft choice to L.A. for veteran Pavol Demitra.
The Wild had just signed sniper Marian Gaborik and he wanted Demitra, a longtime linemate and friend.
“The trade was an eye-opener for me,” said O’Sullivan, who scored 148 goals over four seasons for the OHL’s Mississauga Ice Dogs.
“I had no idea anything like this was being planned. When they traded me, the team was very careful in making sure I knew it had nothing to do with me. Minnesota needed an established set-up man for Gaborik. That meant I had to go.”
Drafted 56th overall in 2003, O’Sullivan is already appearing in his second AHL All-Star Classic. This season he has scored 16 times and added 16 assists in 37 games for the Manchester Monarchs.
“I’m excited,” he said. “Being selected to play in all-star game is a great bonus. I went last year and I had a lot of fun. I’m coming back to an area I know well from junior. It’ll be great.”
An offensive force who always draws tight checking, O’Sullivan said he looked forward to seeing guys around the league who he would be hitting or would be hitting him on any other night.”
This season, O’Sullivan has played 12 games with the Kings and notched his first NHL goal on Oct. 18 against the Wild.
“So far the season has gone really well. I played in L.A. for 12 games. I still have some things I have to work on but I’m 21 years old, I have time to get better.”
The Monarchs are a 26-12-6-1 and hold down first place in the AHL’s Atlantic Division. “It’s a great situation,” O’Sullivan said. “The team is in first place, we can score goals and we have a great goalie in Jason LaBarbera.”
O’Sullivan insists he has long since smoothed over the shock of being traded by the organization that drafted him before he played a single game in their silks.
“Once I was got over the initial shock of it, I was okay. To be traded for a good NHL player before I had made the NHL was a surprise. But right now, I’m trying to be a complete player. I know L.A. has a plan for me.”
For ticket and event information, visit http://www.torontomarlies.com/news/07allstargame.asp