Craig Kennedy won two Herders and an Allan Cup during his 10-year senior hockey career that saw him suit up with three different teams.
Kennedy was captain of the 1986 Corner Brook Royals squad that won the Allan Cup — the top prize for senior hockey in Canada — with a sweep of the Nelson Maple Leafs in a best-of-seven final showdown in British Columbia.
He retired after the Allan Cup win but today he’s still involved in the game as a volunteer with the Corner Brook Royals Booster Club in an effort to keep the Royals tradition alive in Corner Brook.
Kennedy, a 60-year-old Corner Brook native who works as superintendent of public works with the City of Corner Brook, was recognized for his stellar effort with the Royals with a jersey-retirement ceremony before Saturday night’s home opener for the Corner Brook Royals in the new West Coast Senior Hockey League.
The Star sat down with Kennedy Monday afternoon to get his thoughts on the special ceremony and what it meant to him to play for the Royals.
Q: How did you feel about having your family by your side as the Royals organization retired your jersey Saturday night?
A: Over the years I’ve seen some of my fellow Royals players have their sweater retired and when they told me they were going to retire mine I was quite humbled and obviously honoured. I guess the reality don’t set in until you go out to centre ice and you hear all the statistics read out about you it’s very humbling and it’s an evening I will never forget.
Q: What impact did playing for the Corner Brook Royals have on your life?
A: I take a lot of pride in the city and I played with the Royals when we had good times and hard times. Growing up as a boy just seeing Danky (Dorrington) and the boys playing in the old Humber Gardens and just to be part of that great legacy is the best thing that ever happened to me.
Q: What was it like being on the first team to win the Allan Cup for Newfoundland and Labrador?
Reflecting back, to build up that calibre of players for a team and then to have the disappointing year before with losing to the Thunder Bay Twins it’s very rare for a team to come back the next year and fulfill it. Just that drive we had that year after losing. You’ve got to give everybody a pat on the back to pull that together in the second year to win the Allan Cup after losing it the way we did one year before.
Q: What is his proudest moment as a Royal?
A: It’s hard to define one, but my first Herder in 1985 was very special because I was a long time waiting for one. Just being selected the captain of the Royals that year and looking back at past captains to be in the same realm is quite honourable. I also have to say winning the Allan Cup was the highest honour and having your sweater retired are pretty well on the same level.
Q: What would be one of the most disappointing things about your hockey career overall?
A: I would have liked to have gone further in my junior hockey career but I only had better part of a year, but ultimately losing the four games at home to Thunder Bay in the 1995 Allan Cup in Corner Brook was devastating for a lot of people, myself included. We had to take it on the chin, but winning the next year helped take the sting out of the pain.
Q: You watched some great players play for the Corner Brook Royals throughout your youth and called a lot of them your teammates during your playing career. Who, in your opinion, was the best local player to play for the Royals and who was the best import to ever wear the Royals jersey?
A: The best offensive defenceman I ever seen was Ed Kearsey. The man just had raw talent with the legs of Bobby Orr. He was the best local. The skill that man had was unbelievable and all you have to do is look at his stats. But, I would have to say Robbie Forbes was the best forward I seen and played with during my time. Just watching the magic of what the man could do was something really.
Q: Who was one of the biggest influences on your hockey life?
A: It would have to be Brother Murphy who coached me in midget. Back then there wasn’t as much stuff on the go like it is now, but he kept all of us disciplined. He kept me disciplined and he explained the game to me. He explained the things I could do and the things I couldn’t do. He showed me how to play the game the way it should be played.
Q: What do you think of senior hockey on the west coast returning to community-based teams with no paid players?
A: The local content is the big thing now. You can’t have different teams around the west coast having imports when they can’t afford it. The local content and the rules all four teams have agreed to really makes the local content stand out and this is what’s going to bring the fans out.