Starkey: Farewell, Tyler Kennedy
Could we at least say a proper goodbye?
Tyler Kennedy did.
“Pittsburgh's been a second home to me,” Kennedy said a few days after his trade to the San Jose Sharks last weekend. “I'm dating a girl from Pittsburgh now. It's a great town, and it'll always be a part of me.”
It was, quite obviously, time for Kennedy to go. Once the right winger on the best third line in hockey, he had become an expensive afterthought. Other players had to be signed.
General manager Ray Shero handled the situation classily, as he always does. He and Kennedy met after the season, Shero indicating he would look for a decent landing spot.
“Ray and I had a good talk,” Kennedy said. “He's been very respectful, and he put me in a great situation. He kind of knew I had to move to a place with a little better of a chance. I kind of fell off the map here.”
Look, I know Kennedy hit the goalie's logo too often. I know he drove fans crazy by shooting too much (likely the same fans who scream at players for shooting too little. And I know he scored just six goals in 46 games in reduced ice time last season.
It just seemed like his departure merited more than a few buried mentions in the news cycle and what felt like a collective “good riddance” from the fan base.
Certainly, Kris Letang's contract saga and another dramatic Pirates victory were the stories of the day Sunday. But this wasn't Nils Ekman leaving. This was a guy who scored three game-winning goals on the Penguins' march to a Stanley Cup in 2009 and has six playoff game-winners overall (one more than Sidney Crosby).
This was a player who had seven goals and 14 points in his final 22 playoff games here — covering the past three seasons — and poured his heart into every shift. Kennedy was the rarest of Penguins — one who consistently earned his keep in the postseason.
So how do you say goodbye? You pull out the photo album. Three snapshots that will stay with me:
• Kennedy's third-period jam shot in Game 6 against the Red Wings in 2009, one of the great home wins in franchise history.
With Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the midst of going goal-less over the final three games, the third line stole Game 6. Jordan Staal (Kennedy first assist) scored the Penguins' first goal. Kennedy netted the eventual winner in a pulsating, 2-1 victory.
“My biggest one, by far,” he said.
• Kennedy's season-saving effort against the Flyers in Game 5 last year.
With the Penguins desperately trying to stave off elimination, trailing 2-1 after two periods and getting nothing from their stars, Kennedy came through. He set up Staal's tying goal and ripped the game-winner past Ilya Bryzgalov (did the Penguins really lose to him?) three minutes later.
• Kennedy scoring what might have become a legendary goal against the Islanders two months ago.
I spoke with Kennedy earlier in the series, when he was a healthy scratch, and he said, “I'll be ready when they call my name, and I'll play great.”
He was right. He might have saved that series — not to mention Dan Bylsma's job — with his liberating, tension-busting breakaway goal in the second period of Game 5.
One other notable Kennedy goal: He notched the Penguins' first at Consol Energy Center. Kennedy's best season doubled as a set-up for a letdown. With Crosby and Malkin injured in 2010-11, he scored a career-best 21 goals, including seven on the power play.
The Penguins signed him to a two-year, $4 million contract — a good deal if you measure it by Kennedy's playoff production. He was not going to score 21 goals again, because his power-play time understandably shrank to nothing.
In the end, Kennedy wasn't the same player without sidekick Staal, but he does go down as an excellent fourth-round pick (99th overall) by the Craig Patrick regime in 2004.
“Obviously, it's sad being traded,” Kennedy said. “But not many players get through their whole career without going through it.”
Farewell, Tyler Kennedy (Kenneddeeeeee!). Fare well.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Rangers clip Penguins, take 2-1 series lead
- Cubs’ rookie third baseman Bryant helps send Pirates to defeat
- Scoring struggles linger for Penguins 2nd line
- Steelers receiver Brown skipping voluntary offseason workouts
- Brentwood Borough School Board approves major cutbacks
- Interior linemen replace flash with experience for this year’s NFL Draft
- Pittsburgh man taken for wild ride on Route 28
- LaBar: WWE bans finishing move of top star
- Pirates notebook: Ailing Mercer sore but on mend
- Rangers continue mastery on the road