Kennedy: One Step Closer
August 24, 2005
Can you imagine where you would be when one of the most significant moments of your life happened? Most people when asked this question would think of a hospital, church, high school or university. For Tim Kennedy, he would probably answer, "the golf course."
Instead of stressing whether or not he would be drafted during the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the 20-year-old left wing decided to hit the links and take the day in stride.
"My dad was keeping track at home, but I wasn't really paying attention to it," stated the South Buffalo native just days before heading off to Michigan State for his freshman year. "I just figured if it happened, it happened."
"I was nervous for my son," stated Digger Kennedy, Tim's father. "He just went out golfing and didn't come back until later."
Well, it happened. Washington selected Kennedy with the team's sixth-round selection (181st overall), snatching up the prospect just one pick prior to the first of Buffalo's two sixth-round selections.
But Kennedy would remain a Capital for just 30 minutes as the Sabres traded Washington a sixth-round pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for his rights. Kennedy was clueless the transaction had transpired, catching wind of the trade from an unusual source.
"I got a call from the Buffalo News about a half an hour (after being drafted), asking me how it felt to be traded," said Kennedy. "I didn't even know yet."
The initial shock was overwhelming for the youngster and almost unbelievable for all involved.
"It was my dream," stated Kennedy. "I grew up watching the Sabres in the old (Memorial Auditorium) in the old uniforms."
"I was probably one of the last people to find out," said the elder Kennedy. "My wife and I went to a wedding and he was trying to get a hold of us, but I had turned my cell phone off. Later on, I gave him a call from the wedding and he told us he was traded. I thought he was joking around with me."
With that trade, Kennedy advanced towards two goals he has fantasized about for his entire life.
"I got one step closer to my dream of playing in the NHL and my ultimate dream of playing for the Buffalo Sabres," finished Kennedy.
A Typical Buffalo Player
Growing up in South Buffalo, Kennedy's game shares certain traits with the city. A hard-worker with a little bit of a mean streak, Kennedy plays bigger than his 6'0'', 190 pound frame would suggest according to Dave Siciliano, head coach of the Sioux City Muskateers.
"(Kennedy) has the ability to make highly-skilled offensive plays and to also finish," stated Siciliano. "He's a very feisty and gritty player, who can take and give a very solid check. On the ice, (Kennedy) one of these guys that when he hits you, he puts his shoulder into your chest and lays into you like a 200-pounder. He's very, very effective that way. You have to play heads up against him."
Last season was a breakout year for Kennedy with the Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. In 54 games, he recorded 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points, while posting 112 penalty minutes.
The previous season - his rookie year - he notched just nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points with 42 penalty minutes in 56 games. Despite low numbers, Kennedy's play earned a nightly spot on the roster.
"He was creating so many opportunities (his rookie season), but not finishing, that we found that he had to be in our lineup," continued the fourth-year USHL coach. "We actually moved a 19-year-old just so that he could be in the lineup everyday. With that move, came added confidence and when his second year came, we were expecting 40 to 50 points and he ended up with 60. We probably got more than we anticipated but we certainly believed that (the potential) was there."
Sciliano went on to explain how Kennedy possesses the unique ability to excel in any situation.
"With his skills, he's very good on the power-play, makes great decisions with the puck, can finish and is a very good penalty killer because he anticipates (the play) so well," added Siciliano. "He's one of these guys that can go out to the point, take the puck off a defenseman's stick, or read where that pass is going and either put his stick in the lane, intercept the pass or just tip it away. He scored a couple short-handed goals because of that anticipation."
"His upside, in my opinion, is extremely high," said Siciliano. "He has improved so much over the last two years. With the time he is going to spend in college, he's got a chance to put on some pounds and get a little stronger while still using that speed, grit and skill. With a little stronger frame, I think he has got a great chance (to play in the NHL)."