Top News

Corner Brook’s Craig Kennedy remembered as a stalwart figure both on and off the ice

Former Corner Brook Royals captain and well-known city resident Craig Kennedy, who had his No. 2 jersey retired by the team last year, continued to be involved with the hockey club until his death earlier this week at age 61.
Former Corner Brook Royals captain and well-known city resident Craig Kennedy, who had his No. 2 jersey retired by the team last year, continued to be involved with the hockey club until his death earlier this week at age 61. - FILE

When Terry Gillam retired from senior hockey and gave up the captaincy of the Corner Brook Royals, he knew Craig Kennedy was an obvious choice as his successor.

Looking back on the life of Mr. Kennedy, who died Wednesday, Gillam said that gut instinct could not have been more accurate.

RELATED:

'Corner Brook Royals retire Craig Kennedy’s No. 2 jersey'

Gillam retired after the 1985 season, when the Royals suffered a bitter defeat in their quest for an Allan Cup national championship, squandering a 3-0 lead on home ice in the best-of-seven championship final.

He returned as an assistant coach with the Royals in 1986, guided by Mr. Kennedy as their new captain, as the squad of local and imported players went on their historic journey to winning the Allan Cup.

Kennedy was a part of two Herder Memorial Trophy provincial championships with the Royals during his 10-year playing career.

“He certainly was the No. 1 choice as captain when I retired,” Gillam said. “He was a dedicated player and a good defenceman who was all business on the ice.”

Gillam said Mr. Kennedy’s no-nonsense approach made him the perfect rudder on a team that had guys being paid to play hockey. Any risk of complacency among the players was quickly neutralized by Mr. Kennedy's work ethic and his leadership by example.

“He handled it really well,” said Gillam. “Craig knew all the guys and was a likeable fellow.”

Mr. Kennedy’s commitment to hockey continued long after his own retirement from playing the game following the Allan Cup championship. He gave much of his time to ensuring his sons, Jordan and Colton, got to learn and enjoy the game that had given him so much.

He also went on to become a valuable volunteer for the most recent version of the Royals.

Last November, the team retired his signature No. 2 jersey, a moment Mr. Kennedy humbly and graciously appreciated.

Just as he was sought out to lead the Royals, Mr. Kennedy was also at the top of the list when it came time for the City of Corner Brook to hire a new superintendent of public works in 2005.

He still held that job at the time of his death, following a 36-year career with the city that began with his hiring as a labourer/heavy equipment operator in 1982 and a promotion to foreman in 1986.

Wayne Ryan was the City of Corner Brook’s director of operational services at the time and part of the team that promoted Mr. Kennedy in 2005.

“We thought he would do a good job and he did a damn good job,” Ryan said. “Craig would go right out of his way to help you. He would move heaven and earth to help you, if he could.”

As the head of the public works department, Mr. Kennedy’s job was to co-ordinate a wide range of crucial tasks, from water main breaks and snowclearing to responses to severe weather situations such as blizzards and flooding.

“You always knew he was on the job and you could count on things getting done,” said Ryan. “I certainly lost many a night worrying about stuff, but it certainly helped having him there.”

Ryan said Mr. Kennedy was always eager to learn the latest and best practices in the public works realm and was well respected by the people who reported to him.

“He would give everyone a fair shake,” said Ryan.

Ryan says he also convinced Mr. Kennedy to become involved with the Canadian Public Works Association, a national organization of public works professionals for which Mr. Kennedy became the Newfoundland and Labrador chapter’s representative.

Mr. Kennedy was 61.

Recent Stories