KENNEDY: DETROIT ROCK CITY
Friday, 09.18.2009 / 11:14 AM ET / Features
By Erin Pollina - Sabres.com
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Tim Kennedy on Saturday.
The former Michigan State star will undoubtedly see some old teammates, and classmates, as he heads to Detroit to take on the Red Wings in preseason action.
But that’s not the only thing Kennedy is looking forward to. The centerman is also hoping for a reunion of sorts - with an old friend from East Lansing.
“I met Katie my freshman year,” Kennedy said. “We’ve kept in touch about a once a week ever since.”
|Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics|
Katie is an eighth-grade student and MSU hockey fan who suffers from a rare disorder that breaks down her nerves according to Kennedy (he could not recall the exact name of the ailment).
The pair met at a community outreach function at Munn Arena to allow children that aren’t able to play sports engage in competition with some of the school’s athletes. After that, Katie continued to come to hockey games and eventually became the squad’s “adopted little sister.”
“She would come into the locker room after games, just talk to us,” Kennedy said. “I got her email address from her mom before I left so we could stay in touch and we are really close friends now.
“I just see how she’s doing, what she’s up to… It’s cool, she will tell me about school and I’ll just tell her how it’s going in Portland.
“She is really something special.”
|Tim Kennedy (Photo: Courtesy of MSU)|
Kennedy also captured something special in his sophomore year at Michigan State with current Red Wings prospect Justin Abdelkader.
The two are synonymous with Michigan’s 2006 National Championship game for the part they played in defeating Boston College.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, and down 1-0 to the Eagles, Kennedy scored a power play goal to tie it up. Then, with 18.9 seconds to go in regulation, Kennedy dug the puck free behind the Boston net and sent it to Abdelkader, who scored the go-ahead goal and subsequently clinched the title.
“I’ve gone back there the last two summers and people still talk about that game, that goal and what it means to the state and the whole community and town,” Kennedy said. “You don’t really know it then but as you start going back over the years and people are still talking about it, you realize how special it was.”
He hopes to see his former teammate/roommate in the lineup on Saturday, which may be the case with Red Wings’ center Darren Helm out for a month with a sprained AC joint. It wouldn’t be the first time Abdelkader has filled in for an injury. He was previously called up to Detroit for 10 games in the 2008 playoffs, including the Stanley Cup Finals, where he scored two goals.
“I watched all the games really close,” Kennedy said. “When he scored that first goal I was just
sitting back stunned. It was almost like I scored my first goal because that’s how close you were. I talked to him after that game and he thought they had the series wrapped up, the whole world thought they had the series wrapped up…didn’t happen… but it was really awesome to watch him through the whole playoffs.”
|Photo: Bill Wippert|
Kennedy may be asking Abdelkader for some tips this weekend.
While he has embraced his new role at center over the last year in Portland, Kennedy said he still struggles in some aspects – particularly with faceoffs.
Lately, it has been Paul Gaustad that Kennedy has been looking to for advice.
“I got a bunch of his clips last year sent down to Portland for me. I watched those and then every day after practice, I would be out there against whoever: Mathieu Darche, [Felix] Schutz, Marek Zagrapan,” Kennedy said. “It’s something you have to work on. Some guys use pure strength, but I’m not going to go out there and outmuscle someone like Goose.
“You’ve got to be strategic about it, try to get the quick hands on the faceoff. It’s more of an art than you think. There’s more to it than just going out there with your stick and hitting the puck back.”
Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen said he would also like Kennedy to engage more on the defensive side.
“It’s funny, I actually just spoke with him about it and he talks about how much he loved the role,” Dineen said. “What it’s done is put the puck on his stick a lot more. As a winger, you’re in a little more of a support role and as a centerman there is a lot more responsibility, especially defensively.
“Timmy is one of those guys that always wants to live up to any challenges that are given to him - We had Andy McDonald in Anaheim and Derek Roy here - I typically like guys with good vision at center. I’m not just saying that because of their stature, I like the idea that you’re talking about somebody that’s at their best when they have the puck on their stick. That’s Timmy.”