Tyler Kennedy scored 16 goals and 26 assists in 63 games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL this season. The second year 5’10 183-pound center was a fourth round pick, 99th overall of the Penguins in 2004.
Hockey’s Future spoke with Kennedy from his home this week.
HF: What was your reaction when you found out you were drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins?
TK: Very excited, one of my boyhood heroes is Rico Fata. He told me a lot of great things about it. I’m pretty excited being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
HF: What is it about Rico Fata that you like?
TK: I used to watch him for the Greyhounds, go out on the outdoor rink with him, look up to his speed and smarts on the ice, I’m pretty good friends with his younger brother Drew.
HF: What are your biggest strengths on the ice?
TK: My speed on the outside.
HF: What are the areas you still need to improve on?
TK: Shooting the puck a lot. I like passing, making fancy plays, maybe if I shoot a lot more, I’ll get a lot more goals and chances.
HF: What type of role in hockey do you envision for yourself in a couple of years?
TK: Second line intensity guy. I always bring intensity to everyone else, try to get everyone to feed off their energy and a guy who plays very hard.
HF: Are you a rah-rah leader or by example on the ice?
TK: I don’t talk much in the dressing room, I like to show my example on the ice.
HF: What are your plans for this summer? Do you attend any summer camps?
TK: I’m working out with a trainer. He’s a very good trainer, trains a lot of the guys who are going to the NHL, Mike Cowan. He’s very good. I’ll probably go to Denny Lambert’s week-long skating camp, that’s where all the NHL guys go.
HF: Work on power skating?
TK: Yeah, speed and power, conditioning and breathing.
HF: Other than hockey, what do you like to do?
TK: I like to fish, go to camp, swim.
HF: Favorite music and artist?
TK: I like Toby Keith, country kind of guy, I like it a lot.
HF: Who were your linemates this past season and any thoughts on the upcoming season?
TK: I played with Jeff Larsh, he’s a great player. I have nothing but great things to say about the guy. He’s always pushed me to the next step, always there for me. Jason Pitton, great guy, good speed, another guy who knows how to play hockey. Those are the guys who helped me this year.
HF: Before the draft, did you read any of your scouting reports and draft previews, what did you think?
TK: Size and stuff like that, it doesn’t matter. It is about how much you want it. How big your heart is on the ice, how hard you go on the ice. It doesn’t matter how big and strong you are, as long as you play hockey and play it hard.
HF: Any highlights from last season that you hope to repeat and build upon?
TK: I had a game against the Plymouth Whalers, where I had a couple of end of end rushes, felt great on the ice. I felt like I could skate through anyone on the ice. A couple of nice goals, couple points, it was just a game I couldn’t forget.
HF: When you have those games, you feel like you’re taking the next step?
TK: When you have a good game, you feel good about yourself and confident. You want new challenges but you never want to get too high or too low.
HF: Any specific training, practice habits or superstition you like to do?
TK: Before a game, I’ll sit on one side of a guy if I had a good game. Just getting ready, my stretching, if I stretch good, I’ll have a pretty good game.
HF: Any other sports you play?
TK: Mainly hockey. It’s a 12-month a year game. Summer isn’t really time to cool down, you have to get in better shape for next year.
HF: Who got you into hockey?
TK: I have an older brother Jordan, and my dad built an outdoor rink. We were always competitive, always loved it. Always something to look forward to the next day.
HF: What are your goals for this upcoming season?
TK: Just be consistent, play hard all the time, have a better season and better team season. Show we have a team that can compete against the best of them.
HF: When someone says Tyler Kennedy, what do you want them to say?
TK: Great guy, very focused, a guy who comes to play every game.
HF: Thoughts about playing for the Penguins and Mario Lemieux?
TK: It’s pretty exciting, I watch a lot of tapes about him, and am really amazed of the goals he got. My friends say you will be playing beside him, I say no no not really. I guess everyone is excited to see Lemieux.
HF: Anything Rico Fata said about city of Pittsburgh and fans?
TK: Rico said it is a great city, great place to go. That I’ll really enjoy it there.
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