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Ex-Penguin Kennedy 'emotional' about return

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By the numbers

Tyler Kennedy's career numbers:

Games: 399

Goals: 79

Assists: 100

Points: 179

Plus-minus: Plus-38

Penalty minutes: 198

Career playoff games: 76

Career playoff goals: 12

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Tyler Kennedy came home Wednesday, and that be conflicting.

Kennedy uncharacteristically opened up about his time in Pittsburgh, the devastation he felt after being traded and the frustration of being a healthy scratch last spring.

The 27-year-old winger loves this city but sounded happy to have been traded in June to the San Jose Sharks, who face the Penguins at 7 p.m. Thursday at Consol Energy Center.

“It's definitely a little bit of an emotional roller-coaster,” he said. “I was here for six years. I grew up a lot as a player and as a person. Pittsburgh was a second home to me.”

Now it's part of his past.

Kennedy was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the 2013 postseason and also was scratched for Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference final against Boston.

The benching took a toll.

“Not playing kind of hurts,” Kennedy said. “But you've got to remember who you are and that you know how to play hockey. It was frustrating. But that was their decision and something they need to stand by.”

Although Kennedy still speaks with a hint of animosity about the spring, he refused to criticize Penguins general manager Ray Shero or coach Dan Bylsma.

“I've moved on,” he said. “Tomorrow's a new day. There's no hard feelings. Dan was always up-front with me. So was the rest of the staff. Ray was always up-front with me. There's a lot of respect there.”

Kennedy broke into the NHL in 2007, scored two crucial goals in the 2009 Stanley Cup final — including the winner against Detroit in Game 6 at Mellon Arena — and peaked during the 2010-11 season, scoring a career-high 21 goals.

The Penguins rewarded him with a two-year, $4 million deal the following summer, but he failed to reach that level again.

“I knew it was time for me to move on,” Kennedy said. “When I got traded, I kind of knew it was coming. At the end-of-year meetings, Ray was pretty straight forward.

“It was a pretty emotional day, leaving Pittsburgh and a lot of great buddies. Pittsburgh is such a great city. Great people here. The fans are passionate. Just walking around, people are like, ‘Hey, Kennedy, what's up?' I'll hold that close to me for a long time.”

Kennedy has three goals this season playing with center Joe Pavelski and left wing Martin Havlet. The Sharks own hockey's best record (19-3-5), and Kennedy has grown fond of San Jose.

The Ontario native even has developed a taste for the warm California weather.

“It's 75 and sunny every day,” he said. “We go anywhere else, and you're freezing.”

Bylsma offered a kind assessment of Kennedy.

“I've been with TK in Wilkes-Barre and here in Pittsburgh,” Bylsma said. “He's seen me grow as a coach. I've seen him grow as a player. A lot of fond memories.”

Among them?

“The Winter Classic. The Stanley Cup. I met my future wife here. Just the little things. Going through the ups and downs with the team. Just going through the struggles. I'll never forget it,” Kennedy said. “A lot of people helped me through my career here. ... I have a lot of people to thank.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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