I had heard all the stories.
I had witnessed his passion for coaching first hand when I was helping out the Moncton Beavers as a practice coach in 2006-2007.
In some odd way I was intimidated.
I never went up and shook the legends hand.
I guess it would have been pretty awkward to do so given the circumstances, you know on an rival coaching staff.
The first words I ever uttered to Forbie Kennedy was congratulations as I walked by him after a Game 7 loss to the Summerside Caps.
I’ll never forget the look on his face that night.
Pure joy and elation.
The Maritime hockey legend was just so proud of his team.
You see that’s what makes Forbes Kennedy such a treasure.
It’s always been about others.
It’s always been about giving back to the game and his community.
Several years went by until are paths crossed again.
Summer of 2011.
I had went over to Fox Creek to check on some of our junior golfers at Country Meadows who were caddies for the Maritime NHLer’s Event at Fox Creek.
After meeting and congratulating Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid on winning the Cup, I had enough courage to approach the hockey legend and introduce myself.
“Hey Forbie I met you briefly in 2006-2007 when I helped with the Beavers, can I get a picture with,” I said.
“Of course come on over here, you must know Lowell MacDonald,” Kennedy said smiling ear to ear.
He put his arm around me while a bystander snapped at least five or six pictures.
We talked for few more minutes and left the course thinking how great and friendly the man and legend really was.
Fast forward to 2017.
My journey in broadcasting and writing is starting to ramp up.
By that time I had the honour of writing and covering the Maritime NHLer’s For Kids Gala and Tournament.
Leading up to the event at Crowbush Cove I was given the task of interviewing some of the celebrity alumnus and Co-Founder Rick Bowness.
There was no question that Forbes Kennedy was at the top of my list of celebrities to interview.
I will never forget that twenty minute phone call.
I had missed him earlier in the evening because he was at the ball park watching one of his grandchildren play ball.
I was truly amazed and blown away by his story telling ability.
It was truly a surreal moment for me talking with and interviewing an Original Six Maritime hockey legend.
Two short weeks later, my friend Denis Mazzerolle and I walked into the Canadian Tire in Charlottetown to cover the autograph session Meet and Greet for the Maritime NHLer’s For Kids.
Walking close to sports section through the middle of the store was the living legend himself Forbie Kennedy.
“Hey Forbie it’s Craig Eagles, thanks so much for taking the
time to do the interview over the phone two weeks ago,” I said.
“No problem at all, no problem at all,” he said smiling all the time.
For the next hour and half Forbie and longtime childhood friend Ed Johnston who attended the event as a special guest that year signed autographs and took pictures talking and laughing all the time.
Gerard Gallant was sitting with them with a few other celebrities.
The bond between Johnston and Kennedy was as strong as the bond that Kennedy has with his native PEI.
You would be very hard pressed to find a man that has given back to the sport and community he loves more than Forbes Kennedy.
A matter of fact he hasn’t missed one single year of the Maritime NHLer’s For Kids Event.
For over two decades Kennedy has given back to the event, that was designed to reduce the financial barriers preventing deserving boys and girls from the Maritimes to play the game of hockey.
There’s no question Forbie Kennedy is a Maritime icon, both as a player and a person, who undoubtedly left the game better than when he found it.
For that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
You don’t have to ask to many people around this region about Forbie Kennedy without them pausing to tell their own unique “Forbie story.”
You see Forbes Kennedy has touched and continues to touch the lives of so many people in so many different ways.
From the ball park to the hockey rink, you could always count on Forbie Kennedy.
Today the one and only Forbie Kennedy turns 85 years old.
Happy Birthday Forbie and thanks for taking the time to talk to an inspiring writer fascinated by your journey in the game and truly amazed by the impact you have had on the game after it all ended.