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SAN JOSE – Tyler Kennedy has no illusions about his first season with the Sharks.
“You have eyes, you know how it went,” said Kennedy, in a tone that wasn’t as harsh as it seems in writing.
“It was obviously a tough year for me. It’s never going to be roses all the time, and whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You really find out who you are and how much you can go through when things are tough. … But, I’ve turned the page on that. At the end of the day, I know I can play.”
The 28-year-old had four goals and 13 assists for 17 points in 67 games last season, after he was acquired from Pittsburgh for a second round pick at the 2013 draft. He was pulled from the lineup on multiple occasions, though, and was a healthy scratch in all seven first round playoff games against Los Angeles.
An upper body injury early in training camp has delayed his season debut, and a chance to get his career on track again after some effective seasons with the Penguins. He returned to Sharks practice on Tuesday after a conditioning stint in Worcester that included three AHL games.
“First of all, he’s an experienced veteran player that’s competed in a lot of games in the league. He should have the ability to regain his confidence quickly,” Todd McLellan said. “Secondly, you look at what his strengths are. He’s quick. He throws a lot of pucks to the net. He recovers pucks well offensively. There are some assets there. He plays a feisty game, which is also an asset.”
Errors in the defensive zone were what primarily led to Kennedy’s press box seat in the postseason.
“Away from the puck is probably where we’re looking for a little more stability and up the trust level a little bit there,” McLellan said. “When he was out hurt, he was studious to pay attention to the games and asked a lot of good questions about how we’re doing things. I’m confident that he has the ability and the skills to regain his confidence.”
The Sharks’ bottom six forwards have been in a state of flux for just about the entire first month of the season, and unclear where Kennedy would slot in, but San Jose will have to make a roster move when it takes him off of injured reserve. McLellan wasn’t ready to declare Kennedy in Thursday’s lineup against Vancouver.
Kennedy is anxious, though.
“I definitely want to go out there and do my best, and show that I can play,” he said.
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Scott Hannan returned to practice after missing Monday's skate. Hannan was hit hard by the Islanders' Cal Clutterbuck on Saturday, and had to leave the game in the first period.