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Mike Sullivan back to Boston



Will have a good story tomorrow on associate coach Mike Sullivan, who grew up in Marshfield, Mass., a suburb south of Boston and coached the Bruins from 2003-06. Sullivan comes from a remarkable family of five children. There is much in the story but there is plenty that only made the cutting room floor. Here is some of what won't be in the paper tomorrow:

Sullivan was so competitive while growing up, he insisted on playing with his older brother George and his buddies. The age difference was 8 years, but Sullivan was so athletic, he fit in ... kind of. The way George tells it, one day Sullivan was among a group playing backyard football. "He tried to run through two of us and we broke his collar bone. Guess who had to go home and tell our mother Mike was hurt.''

Sullivan had a friend, Jimmy Meagher, who lost his mother to cancer when he was 12. By the time he was a senior in high school, Meagher was living with cousins with whom he quarreled regularly. Sullivan invited him to live with him and his family and would spend hours talking about hockey tactics, what teams he liked to watch and what coaches he believes had the wrong philosophy. "That's where he started developing his passion for hockey,'' Meagher said.

Jack Parker, the legendary coach at Boston University, couldn't say enough about the year Sullivan, his senior captain in 1990, on a severely swollen ankle, starred in a playoff series against Michigan State. "He had such a competitive nature. He wanted to be the best he could be and beat the other club, too,'' Parker said.

After playing four years at Boston University, Sullivan played 11 years in the NHL, coached the Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence and then the Bruins. He was an assistant with the United States national team at the Turin Olympics and coached the 2007 team at the World Championships in Russia.

Sullivan, 39, is a fascinating guy whose parents taught him well and used those lessons as he grew up. In another life, he might have been a teacher.

One funny moment: After last Saturday's morning skate in Florida, Sullivan stayed on the ice for an extra 45 minutes while Dan Boyle and Andreas Karlsson, both hurt, went through conditioning drills. One drill was laps from sideboard to sideboard. Each player did one, then two, then three, up to five, and then skated laps back down to one.

The thing was, Sullivan did the drill too. He said it was a great opportunity to let the players know he understands what they went through. Coach John Tortorella has not done anything similar which wasn't lost on Boyle.

"He skates with us. I like that,'' Boyle said of Sullivan. "He knows what we're going through. I want to see Torts out here.''

One quick practice note: Karlsson, out since Oct. 1 with an abdominal strain, has been cleared to play. No word on when he will get in a game.


[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]


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