Right-winger Sheldon Kennedy was a top scorer in junior but more of a defensive role player in the NHL. His struggles as a pro after a brilliant amateur career were understandable after he came forward as a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of junior coach Graham James.
Kennedy played three years of junior with the Swift Currant Broncos where he was one of the top players in the WHL. He scored 287 points and was voted on to the WHL East second all-star team in 1989. That same year he scored 24 points in 12 playoff games as the Broncos won their first Memorial Cup. Following the victory he was named to the tournament all-star team. During his junior career Kennedy also won a gold medal with Canada at the 1988 World Junior Championships and also played at the 1989 WJC. The promising winger was chosen 80th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1988 Entry Draft.
Kennedy split his first three pro seasons between Detroit and Adirondack of the AHL and often struggled with his confidence. He was a checking forward on the Wings in 1992-93 and 1993-94 as the team recorded consecutive 100-point seasons. Following the 1993-94 season Detroit gave up on Kennedy and traded him to the Winnipeg Jets.
By the time the owners' lockout ended, Kennedy no longer fit in to Winnipeg's plans and he was placed on waivers. He was claimed by the Calgary Flames and was a solid checker and penalty killer for them until signing as a free agent with the Boston Bruins in 1996. It was in Boston where Kennedy courageously came forward with the truth about the sex crimes committed against him while he was a teenager.
A serious off-ice accident caused him to miss the 1997-98 season and he was released by the Bruins. He returned to play one last year with the IHL's Manitoba Moose and the EV Landshut club in Germany before retiring to concentrate on getting on with his life and helping other victims of sexual abuse. Kennedy launched his own ranch as a healing and counselling centre for sexually abused children and undertook a cross-Canada rollerblade trek to raise money for his activities.