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Kennedy's winding road leads back to Sabres' organization

SUNRISE, Fla. – After traveling for more than 30 hours from Sweden to Buffalo, Tim Kennedy was ready to restart his life in Rochester. It almost didn’t happen because of a waiver claim.

But after Sabres General Manager Tim Murray worked out a deal, Kennedy took the ice with the Amerks on Monday. He’s looking forward to being part of the Sabres’ organization again.

“I’m just really happy to be back in Rochester,” Kennedy told the Amerks’ website. “I’m just going to come in and try to help the team win.”

Kennedy, who played parts of two seasons with the Sabres, has led a gypsy life since getting bought out by ex-Buffalo GM Darcy Regier in 2010. The 30-year-old has gone from Connecticut to Florida to Rochester to Texas to Massachusetts to San Jose to Phoenix to Maine to Pennsylvania to Russia to Finland to Sweden. He started this season with Lulea of the Swedish Hockey League, recording two goals and two assists in 18 games, but the sides terminated the contract Thursday.

Buffalo signed Kennedy to a minor-league deal Saturday, but he needed to go through waivers because he started the season in Europe. Carolina’s American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte claimed the center.

The South Buffalo native signed with Rochester to get his wife and three young children close to home, so it’s possible he wouldn’t have reported to the Checkers.

“Charlotte has since transferred his contract back to our organization,” Murray said. “We are happy to have Tim join the Amerks and look forward to his contributions this season.”

Kennedy becomes the second-oldest player on the Amerks, behind 31-year-old defenseman Tyson Strachan. The Amerks are banking on Kennedy to boost their offense and the prospects’ chances of reaching the NHL. Kennedy played 162 games with the Sabres, Panthers, Sharks and Coyotes, so he knows what it takes to reach the big leagues.

The center will skate between two of Buffalo’s top prospects, left wing Alexander Nylander and right wing Justin Bailey.

“I can remember when I was a young guy,” Kennedy said. “Now it’s reversed where I’m the older guy. I think your time in hockey goes quick, and you have to like the experience. You have to just take advantage of it, and it’s cool to be the older guy now and just help these young guys hopefully mature into really good young professionals.”

Kennedy has played 335 games in the AHL, recording 71 goals, 196 assists and 267 points. The Amerks entered Monday’s game in middle of the pack in scoring, ranking 15th with 77 goals in 28 games, an average of 2.75.

With an 11-16-1 record, they entered the home game against Binghamton in 12th place in the 14-team Eastern Conference.

“He certainly is going to bring some leadership to our group,” Amerks coach Dan Lambert said. “He’s been right around a point-a-game guy at this level. He’s got the NHL experience. It’s certainly something we were probably short of in the first part of the season, so having him is certainly welcoming.

“I think it’s important to surround your young prospects with older guys that do things the right way and can provide leadership and a better chance at success as well. He’s a guy that is capable of doing that. He’s done that in the past, and we are looking forward to adding him.”

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