Penguins notebook: Kennedy comfortable with San Jose scene
December 4, 2013 11:01 PM
Former Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy, congratulated here by Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik, returns to Consol Energy Center tonight with San Jose.
By Shelly Anderson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
His new teammates think Tyler Kennedy is nuts for driving a big truck when they all have cars. After all, there's no snow or ice on the roads in San Jose, Calif.
"I've never seen weather like that. It's 75, 70 degrees, sunny every day," the Sharks right winger said Wednesday, a day before he will face his former team for the first time. The Sharks practiced at Consol Energy Center after Penguins practice.
Kennedy was in great spirits and seems to have found a good comfort level with the Sharks, who acquired him from the Penguins in a draft-day trade in June for a second-round draft pick.
He has been playing on a line with Martin Havlat and Joe Pavelski. He has three goals, 11 points in 27 games.
"We thought he was a piece that could come in and help our team play the way we wanted it to play -- with some speed, a little bit of tenacity, hard and committed," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "He's done all those things for us to this point. I really believe he's starting to feel comfortable with our team."
Kennedy called returning to Pittsburgh and Consol Energy Center "an emotional roller coaster. I was here for six years. It was a great six years. I really grew as a person and as a player. Pittsburgh was like a second home to me. It means a lot to be back here."
At one point, Kennedy was part of what might have been the top third line in the NHL with Matt Cooke and Jordan Staal. Now those three have scattered to different teams. The Penguins made Kennedy a healthy scratch at times last season, so he was not surprised when he got traded.
"Not playing kind of hurts you, but you've got to remember who you are and know that you know how to play hockey, but obviously it was frustrating when I was sitting out," he said. "That was their decision and something they had to stand by, but I've moved on. There are no hard feelings."
He said when he got traded, it meant "leaving a lot of good buddies" among the Penguins.
Kennedy, 27, who was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round in 2004, wanted a fresh start with San Jose. He ditched his old uniform No. 48 for No. 81 and set about learning a new system with new terminology and teammates.
"I've been really fortunate to go to another great team and another great coaching staff," he said. "There are a lot of comparisons from San Jose to Pittsburgh.
"They have a little bit different style. It's a different atmosphere in the [locker] room. They're both good."
Bringing their 'A' game
San Jose has won nine of its past 10 games and leads the Pacific Division with 43 points.
"They've probably proven themselves to be the best in the league right now," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
McLellan thinks a lot of the Penguins, too.
"I think [the game] will be a big test for us, in this building, with the talent that they have," he said. "But we're up to the task. We'll throw our best game out there and see what happens."
The Penguins held an optional skate with these players participating: Forwards Chuck Kobasew, Brandon Sutter, Chris Conner, Andrew Ebbett, Craig Adams, Zach Sill and Jayson Megna; defensemen Olli Maatta, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres; and goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Jeff Zatkoff. ... Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, recovering from Oct. 25 surgery for a broken left ankle, is walking without crutches, a cast, a boot or a brace.
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