By Mike Harrington
Tim Kennedy is on his eighth pro team since the Sabres bid him farewell in August, 2010, by putting him on waivers and then buying out his contract after he won a $1 million arbitration award. This isn’t even his first trip back to Buffalo, as he has visited with both the New York Rangers and Florida Panthers. But it’s the first time he’s actually found a home.
Kennedy is playing left wing on the Coyotes’ top line, along side big guns Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal. He’s played at least 15 minutes in four of the last seven games, and clocked in at a season-high 19:05 in Thursday’s game in Toronto.
Kennedy endured three separate trips to Portland of the AHL this year, including one out of training camp, but returned Nov. 21 and tonight’s homecoming will be his 15th straight game. He has one goal and five assists but his pointless in the last 10 games. Still, he’s helping to contribute to the offense as Vrbata is the team’s leading scorer with 27 points and Hanzal is tied for third at 24.
“They’re easy guys to play with,” Kennedy said after the Coyotes’ pregame skate here today. “Marty is just a big guy, strong on his stick, strong in the corners and a really good two-way centerman. Verbie is a great shooter. You get him the puck in the slot. I add some speed, some skill, some grit. I like to pass before shooting so I’m looking for the two of them. We’ve been working well down low.”
Kennedy finished last year with San Jose and signed with Phoenix when he figured the loaded Sharks roster was not his best bet to make the NHL as a regular for the first time since he played 76 games as a rookie with the Sabres in 2009-10.
Still, he struggled in training camp and started the season in the AHL. He’s on a two-way contract that pays $700,000 in the NHL but just $150,000 in the AHL.
“I didn’t have the greatest camp in the world by any means,” he said. “So I went to Portland, kept working hard and got called up three times. It seems I”ve stuck this team and I have to keep working because I’m happy to be here.”