Penguins Notebook: Kennedy called up; Roberts out sick
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When forward Tyler Kennedy got the call about 3 p.m. Friday that he was being promoted to the Penguins, he did what any hockey prospect would when facing his NHL debut.
"First, I called my parents," Kennedy said yesterday after the morning skate as the Penguins prepared to play Montreal last night.
Kennedy, 21, was summoned from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League because the Penguins were short-handed for the Montreal game with forwards Gary Roberts (illness) and Georges Laraque (groin) out. Kennedy was drafted by the Penguins in the fourth round in 1999.
In six games with the Baby Penguins, Kennedy had three goals and two assists to sit in a tie for second on the team with five points. He had the winning goal in Wilkes-Barre's first two victories.
"A lot of guys are playing good down there," Kennedy said. "I was just the one to get called up. I hope I can get on the puck hard, get some pucks on turnovers and give some of the guys some good scoring opportunities."
All the in-house reports from Wilkes-Barre said he was the top candidate among forwards to join the Penguins.
"He's an energy guy," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "He went down to Wilkes-Barre with a great attitude."
Roberts, 41, was slowed by a virus-type illness last month when the Penguins trained at West Point. Apparently, it has resurfaced. Therrien described the illness as respiratory and "a cold."
Roberts hadn't missed a regular-season game and has one goal and four assists, but he missed morning skates Thursday and yesterday as well as practice Friday.
"We hope [a few days off] is going to help him before we go on the road," Therrien said. "He got better [after the initial bout], but he slid back a little bit. We don't want it to keep going and going.
"But we all know Gary Roberts. He wants to play every game. He's got a lot of pride. But if he's not 100 percent, why play him?"
Growing up in Montreal, Therrien couldn't help but be a fan of Canadiens' Hall of Famer Maurice "Rocket" Richard. He's still a fan.
"Off the ice, I got a chance to meet the man when I was coaching," Therrien said. "He was loyal to his friends, loyal to his team and loyal to his fans."
Richard became the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season. He did it in 50 games, which set a standard for the very best scorers.
He also overcame prejudice against French-Canadian players and criticism that he was too small. All of those things were chronicled in a movie, "The Rocket," which originally was released in French but is coming out Nov. 13 on DVD with an English track.
"It's such a great movie," Therrien said. "Everyone should have a chance to see that movie. To see what he went through in his career, it's phenomenal."
Therrien has a reason to think about Richard on game nights, whether the Penguins are playing Montreal or not.
"When he put the skates on, you're talking about the eyes of 'Rocket' Richard," Therrien said.
"There's one guy you could say that [about now]. When Sid [Crosby, the Penguins' captain] is playing the game, he's got the same eyes."
Mathieu Dandenault has established himself as one of the game's better utility men, shuttling between defense and forward almost from the time he broke into the league with Detroit.
Dandenault, who spent the past two seasons playing defense for the Canadiens, has played both this season. He had two goals and one assist going into last night.
In addition to Roberts and Laraque, the Penguins scratched defenseman Alain Nasreddine. Montreal scratched forward Garth Murray and Mikhail Grabovski and defenseman Patrice Brisebois.
First Published October 28, 2007 12:00 am