January 4, 2011

AHL Journal: Whale of a weekend for Kennedy

Connecticut center tallies two OT game-winners

by Dan Hickling

Connecticut Whale center Tim Kennedy beat Portland twice with back-to-back overtime game-winners. (photo: Dan Hickling)

Dejà vu poked its head into the hockey world over the weekend to the great benefit of Connecticut Whale center Tim Kennedy.

It was not so kind to Kennedy’s former team, the Portland Pirates.

Kennedy daggered his ex-mates with overtime game-winners twice in a 48-hour span, both on power plays no less.

“You know, it was kind of the same set-up,” Kennedy said. “I was laughing to myself on the bench.”

The second of those came on New Year’s Eve, with 24 seconds gone in the extra session and a little more than four hours remaining in the old year.

If there was some dejà vu involved, there was also a bit of puck luck for Kennedy, who was planted off to the right of Portland goalie Jhonas Enroth.

“I almost felt bad for Jhonas,” said Kennedy, who was a teammate of Enroth’s two seasons ago, “because I was going to the same spot, but whiffed and went 5-hole. He knew I was going glove, and if the shot would have gone where it was supposed to go, he probably would have saved it.”

It made for a nifty return to Portland for Kennedy, who had a standout rookie season for the Pirates in 2008-09.

“It’s always nice to come back here,” Kennedy said. “I had a good year, my first year pro. We had a good time, and some success. I have respect for the whole place here.”

Respect, perhaps. But he never actually expected to pay those respects in person after spending all of last season with the Buffalo Sabres.

But this is where the story gets dicey.

Eligible for salary arbitration, Kennedy may have overplayed his hand. He won his $1 million judgment but was summarily waived by the Sabres, who (by the way) were his hometown boyhood heroes.

Kennedy was picked up off the wire by the New York Rangers but was quickly exiled to Hartford.

“The summer wasn’t that tough until the first week of August,” he said, managing a smile. “It was a pretty good summer but a rough last month. But that’s hockey. It was tough getting sent down. It’s not what I expected. But you learn to play with whatever you’re dealt with. I think I really started to turn the corner the last few weeks. I’m going to just keep playing hard and keep putting up points. I’m just trying to play (well) and get back there (to the NHL).”

For now, he’s doing his best to prove to not one but two NHL teams that they were wrong about him.

Sounds like dejà vu.

All over again.

Around the AHL

Six hockey luminaries make up the inaugural class of the newly established Worcester Hockey Hall of Fame. The late Larz Anderson, Eddie Bates, Marvin Degon Sr., Kelly O’Leary, Terry Virtue and Scott Young (Clinton, Mass.) will all be honored in ceremonies Jan. 22 between periods of the Worcester Sharks/Bridgeport Sound Tigers game. The WHOF was established to honor individuals who have made a significant impact on hockey in Central Mass. …

The trading of former UMass-Lowell goalie Dwayne Roloson by the New York Islanders to the Tampa Bay Lightning paid an instant dividend to the Sound Tigers, the Isles’ AHL farm club. In return for Roloson, the Islanders received former blue-chip blueliner Ty Wishart, who was promptly sent to Bridgeport. Wishart is a former first-round pick of San Jose’s and went to Tampa as part of the Dan Boyle trade.

Dan Hickling can be reached at feedback@hockeyjournal.com