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Tumultuous summer leaves Kennedy motivated

by Dan Rosen
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Tim Kennedy insists his resentment toward his hometown Buffalo Sabres has vanished, that it took him four or five days but he's moved on from his bitter departure from his former club early last month.

Maybe that's the case now, but you've got to wonder how he'll feel when he rolls into Buffalo with the Rangers to open his 2010-11 season on Oct. 9.

Will Kennedy, a Buffalo resident and Sabre for one full season, revert back to feeling that same resentment and bitterness when he steps into HSBC Arena as a visitor for the first time?

"The correct answer is no, but inside, yeah," Kennedy told Thursday. "Inside there is always something you want to prove to say, 'You made a mistake by letting me go.' "

According to Kennedy, the Sabres told him he was going to be part of their future, but they instead chose to place him on waivers on Aug. 2 and then buy him out the next day because they didn't want to pay him the $1 million one-year contract he was awarded in arbitration.

Kennedy said he hit the "ultimate low" when the Sabres bought him out. He was put into limbo for nearly a month before he finally found a new home with the Rangers, who signed him to a one-year contract reportedly worth $550,000 late last month.

Kennedy left upstate New York at 3 a.m. Thursday to make it to the Rangers' suburban practice facility in time to be on the ice at 10.

"I'm back on a high now," he said after his first informal skate with his new team.

But as much as he tries, Kennedy can't hide his feelings about his former club mainly because he was so surprised at how quickly things changed.

"It was kind of an overnight thing," he said. "I was in that morning to workout like normal and then two hours later I was getting waived by my team. It was a weird situation because after the whole season they told me I was coming back and to expect to be there, and within 24 hours it changed and I was a free agent. You're in shock and you don't know what to do.

"It took me four or five days to get over it, but you have to move on," he added. "You have to keep working out and you have to keep skating because you know you're going to play somewhere else next year."

Sabres GM Darcy Regier told the Buffalo media on Aug. 3 that he was shocked the arbitrator awarded Kennedy $1 million on a one-way contract for one season. He had only 26 points in 78 games last season, including a stretch of 19 straight games from Jan. 1-March 13 when he had just two assists and was a minus-8.

Since the $1 million award was below the low-water mark threshold written into the CBA that allows teams to walk away from an arbitrator's decision without sacrificing a dime, the Sabres were on the hook for an amount they weren't prepared to pay.

Regier said he issued Kennedy a $605,000 two-way contract as qualifying offer. Once the GM learned of the $1 million award he informed all 29 other clubs that Kennedy was available in a trade, but no one wanted to take him at that price and obviously Buffalo didn't want to pay it either.

Kennedy was placed on waivers, and after he went unclaimed over a period of 24 hours he was bought out for one-third of his contract, or $333,000.

"We negotiated up to arbitration never expecting him to get that kind of award," Regier said on Aug. 3. "Because he received a million-dollar award, it changed the rules. It allowed us to reevaluate the team, reevaluate our lineup, reevaluate our strengths and weaknesses and take those resources and move them to other parts of the club.

"It's a tough business sometimes. It impacts young men."

Kennedy, who grew up in South Buffalo as a Sabres fan, did make a point Thursday of thanking the team "because they gave me my shot at getting into the League," and now he insists he's ready to move on.

The Rangers are going to give him a chance to forget about his emotional summer.

"I want to put up more points," Kennedy said when asked about his goals for this season. "I want to be more sound in our own end. Being a solid, two-way player in this League is huge and that's what I'm going to keep working on."

Motivation shouldn't be a problem.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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