SUMMERSIDE – It was a homecoming of sorts for Forbes Kennedy at EastLink Arena on Monday night.
The former Summerside Western Capitals head coach was front and centre as he was honoured by one of the NHL’s most storied franchises.
Kennedy, who played four seasons with the Boston Bruins and had an NHL career that spanned more than 600 games, was honoured by the organization during what was dubbed “Forbes Kennedy Night.”
“It’s a nice feeling,” a modest Kennedy said after receiving the honour and a rousing round of applause from the 2,000-plus people in attendance. “Summerside’s always been good to me.”
The Boston Bruins Alumni, a team Kennedy coached to an 11-7 victory over the P.E.I. Local Legends, was in the city for a fundraising game in aid of the Summerside Boys and Girls Club and Generation XX.
Ironically, he coached in the facility’s inaugural game in March 2007. He was head coach of the Summerside Western Capitals of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) team from 2004 to the fall of ’07.
“When I coached up here I always gave them the best I could, and they always gave me 100 per cent,” said Kennedy. “Tonight (Monday), it brings back more memories of coaching up here, being on the bench.”
Kennedy never scored more than 30 points in a season in the NHL, but was known as a consistent checker, penalty killer and a relentless competitor who would never back down from anyone, even though he stood only 5’8.
Born in New Brunswick and raised on P.E.I., Kennedy began his hockey career playing for the Halifax St. Mary’s of the Nova Scotia Junior League in 1952-53 and went on to play two years with the Montreal Junior Canadiens before being traded on May 24, 1956, by the Montreal Canadiens to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kennedy made his NHL debut with the Hawks in the 1956-57 season, centring a checking line with Hec Lalande and Harry Watson.
In July 1957, Kennedy was sent to Detroit, where he played two full seasons with the Wings. However, he soon found himself spending more time in the minors.
It was in December 1962 his hockey career got a boost with a trade to Boston, where he spent four years.
Kennedy played a season in the WHL before being selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the expansion draft. He spent two years with the club before being traded to Toronto, where he played his last 13 games in the NHL in 1968-69.
Kennedy fondly remembers his days with the Bruins and in Beantown, an organization and city that continues to this day to treat him well.
“Everywhere you went you met someone from the Island,” he said. “Every year I go to Boston in the playoffs and see Kenny (Linseman) up there and Terry (O’Reilly) and Rick (Middleton) and those guys and they look after me. I go there every year.”