Dean Kennedy

"Average" defensemen don't often get the respect they deserve. Case in point is Dean Kennedy.

In a cover story on the Feb. 3, 1989 issue of The Hockey News, Kennedy earned the dubious honor of being the NHL's "most average defenseman" as a result of a NHL average statistics analysis. Unfortunately, The Hockey News goofed in picking Kennedy's photo for the cover, accidentally choosing a photo of Ken Hammond.

If Rodney Dangerfield was a hockey player, he'd be Dean Kennedy. Talk about a lack of respect!

Though he had a rather anonymous career, Dean Kennedy was a solid positional defenseman who could play physically in his own end. He was a hard hitter who always finished his check. In his prime he was a good fit as a number 4 defenseman.

A native of Redvers, Saskatchewan, Kennedy grew up idolizing Tiger Williams - hockey's ultimate bad boy. Kennedy would switch from right wing to defense around the age of 14, and joined the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL in 1980. By 1981 he was scouted as a promising rearguard. The Los Angeles Kings drafted Kennedy 39th overall

Kennedy began the 1982-83 season in Brandon but quickly made the jump to the NHL, playing 55 games as a rookie.

He made a name for himself somewhat infamously although Tiger Williams would have been proud. He was suspended four games for fighting Edmonton's Ken Linseman under the stands and in the corridors of the Great Western Forum. Though he played with heart, his positional play, like so many young defensemen, was in need of improvement. He spent most of the next two years learning the pro game in the AHL with the New Haven Nighthawks.

Kennedy became a regular with the Kings from 1985-86, getting a chance to play with his idol Williams. He would remain with the Kings until he was traded to the New York Rangers in December 1988. He would only play in 16 games in the Big Apple as he was traded back to L.A. where he worked well with the offensive minded Steve Duchesne.

In the summer of 1989 Kennedy was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a draft choice. He would enjoy a strong season in his first year in Buffalo. The team registered 98 points in the standings. Kennedy himself scored 14 points, and played a full 80 game schedule.

Kennedy played in one more season with Buffalo before joining the Winnipeg Jets prior to the 1991-92 season. Though most of his first season with Winnipeg was lost to injuries, the next two years he played an important role in stabilizing the Winnipeg defensive corps. He also acted as team captain for parts of two seasons.

The Edmonton Oilers claimed the grizzled veteran on waivers after the owners' lockout of 1994-95 ended. Kennedy would play in 40 games before retiring.

Kennedy retired with 717 hard fought NHL contests on his resume. He scored just 26 goals and 134 points while amassing 1118 penalty minutes.


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