Chris Kelleher was born March 23, 1975 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The 5th round choice, 130th overall selection of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Kelleher is a graduate of Boston University and of St. Sebastian's High School.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts native played four seasons at BU, playing in three NCAA Hockey Finals and winning an NCAA championship his freshman season in 1994-95. Named an NCAA East Second Team All-American in both 1996-97 and 1997-98 and a Hockey East Second Team All-Star in 1997-98 as well, Kelleher made his professional debut with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch in 1998-99.
Kelleher went on to play three seasons in the Penguins organization, leading their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton to the 2001 Calder Cup final and leading the AHL playoff scoring race as a defenseman with 25 points before signing as a free agent with the Boston Bruins in the off-season.
In his first year with the Bruins organization, Kelleher missed most of the AHL season with a shoulder injury, playing in only 31 games with Providence while suiting up for one game with the parent club before returning to the AHL.