Triumphant return: Forbes Kennedy reunited with hockey stick he gave fan

Jason Malloy
Published on November 23, 2013

Forbes Kennedy displays a hockey stick he gave a fan in the early 1960s that was recently returned to him by the fan from Chicago.

©Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy

A hockey stick handed to a young fan a half a century ago is back in the hands of a Prince Edward Island hockey legend.

Forbes Kennedy and his Boston Bruins teammates from the early 1960s signed the Northland Pro stick and passed it to John Pappanduros prior to a game at the old Chicago Stadium.

Earlier this month the stick arrived in Charlottetown.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Kennedy told The Guardian earlier this week. “The same tape is on it. It was never used. He just kept it all those years.”

Pappanduros grew up in a Chicago suburb and went to many Blackhawks game with his family. His mother had a relative who operated a bar in Boston. That relative, Andy Sedaris, knew Kennedy and helped arrange for the hockey stick to be given to Pappanduros.

Prior to the warm-up Kennedy skated to the boards and asked the young boy if he was Johnny. Kennedy told him to stay there and he was going to get him a stick.

“Of course, I’m 10 years old, totally excited out of my mind, and the place starts to fill up. Both teams come out for the pre-skate before they drop the puck and out of the pack of Bruins comes a player and it’s Forbes Kennedy, and he’s got two sticks with him,” Pappanduros recalled. “I was just going nuts inside.”

Kennedy passed one of the sticks, signed by the Bruins, to Pappanduros and used the other during the game.

Pappanduros took the stick home and nailed it to his bedroom door. It stayed there until his parents died and the family sold the home a few years ago.

Pappanduros kept the stick at his home and often shared the story with hockey fans.

When the Bruins and the Blackhawks met in last spring’s Stanley Cup final, Pappanduros and his younger brother started talking about it being an Original Six matchup.

“I just started thinking about Forbes Kennedy,” Pappanduros said.

He started searching online, finally coming across a Facebook page. There were two videos, including one done by CBC-TV for Hockey Day in Canada in 2012. It was evident to Pappanduros that Kennedy was really loved by his home province.

“I started thinking, ‘you know what, this really belongs back with him,’” Pappanduros said of the stick.

He added a comment on the website and that’s when the story took off.

Teacher Shawn Kennedy stumbled across the comment while preparing to show the video of his grandfather to his students in Fort McMurray, Alta. Shawn got in touch with Pappanduros and before long the stick was sent via courier to Charlottetown.

“It’s really amazing to see a fan would actually do that, to go out of his way to give it back,” Shawn said.

“There are not too many people who would actually do that.”

Pappanduros just asked for a photo of Forbes with the stick in return, but received much more.

“I was ecstatic, especially when he called me and I was home by myself,” Pappanduros said. “I was like a freakin’ kid.”

The two men talked for about 30 minutes.

“What a hell of a good guy. You would think you knew him all your life,” Forbes said. “He’s a real good gentleman and you could tell he meant everything that he did.”

Forbes said looking at the signatures of former teammates like Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk and Ted Green brought back a lot of memories. It also reminded him of an era when hockey sticks were made of wood.

“It’s a lot heavier than the ones you get today,” Kennedy said. “How did we ever pass the puck, let alone shoot it? And I thought they were light when I played.”

Pappanduros is glad the stick is back in Forbes’ possession.

“If it hadn’t had been for the Internet and Facebook this would never had happened,” he said. “It ended up being a fun journey.”


Forbes Kennedy

Born – Dorchester, N.B.

Raised – Charlottetown

Age – 78

Position – Centre

NHL – Kennedy played Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto

NHL stats

GP    G    A    Pts.    PIM

603    70    108    178    888

- Did you know – A chapter on Kennedy is included in a new book, Road to the NHL, by Nova Scotia author Philip Croucher.