Kevin Stevens - NHL Career

NHL Career

After a year of jumping back and forth from the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League (IHL), Stevens became one of the top left wingers and power forwards in the league over the next four seasons. He had four-straight seasons of at least 40 goals and 80 points from 1990–94 and surpassed 50 goals and 100 points in back to back seasons of 1991–92 and 1992–93. In the 1991–92 NHL season, Stevens became only the 3rd person in NHL history to outscore Wayne Gretzky in the regular season, though he still finished 2nd in points to teammate Mario Lemieux. His 123 points that year also set a record for the most points by an American-born player and a left wing in one season. During the Pittsburgh Penguins back-to-back Stanley Cup seasons of 1990–91 and 1991–92, Stevens was the only Penguin to play in every regular season and playoff game. He's also one of four NHL players (the others are Keith Tkachuk, Brendan Shanahan and Gary Roberts) to have accumulated more than 50 goals and at least 200 PIM in a season. His 17 goals during the 90–91 playoffs are tied for 3rd all-time (only Jari Kurri and Reggie Leach with 19 and Joe Sakic with 18 have surpassed that mark). He scored 13 more in the 91–92 postseason.

On May 21, 1992, during game 3 of the Prince of Wales Conference Final against the Boston Bruins, Kevin became only the 25th player in NHL history to score 3 goals in a single period. Scoring a hat trick in the first period, he would add one more goal before the end of the game. The Penguins defeated the Bruins 5–1, with Stevens scoring 4 of the 5 goals in the game, Bryan Trottier with the other goal. The Penguins went on to win the series, sweeping the Bruins and subsequently sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks to win their second straight Stanley Cup.

One year later, on May 14, 1993, the Penguins were playing the New York Islanders in game seven of the Patrick Division Finals. Early in the first period, Stevens skated in and tried to check Islanders defenceman Rich Pilon, but missed and instead met Pilon's visor with so much force that it knocked him unconscious. He landed face first on the ice; having been knocked unconscious, he was unable to soften the blow when he landed. Stevens shattered most of the bones in his face and required extensive reconstructive surgery. Doctors cut an incision below his hairline from ear-to-ear, which was later closed with over 100 stitches, peeled back his skin and reassembled the bones in Stevens' face with the use of metal plates. Stevens came back to have one more strong season for the Penguins in 1993–94 (41 goals, 47 assists), before being traded the next year.

Stevens was sent to the Boston Bruins in 1995 along with Shawn McEachern for Glen Murray and Bryan Smolinski. After being traded from the Penguins, Stevens never again reached the success that he had while in Pittsburgh. After "disappointing" in Boston with 23 points in 41 games, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings. After a dismal season, he was traded to the New York Rangers in 1997, where he experienced several solid seasons, but failed match the expectations levied on him when he played for the Penguins.

During the 1999–2000 season, Stevens would struggle in his NHL career. Not only did he rarely see the ice during this season, but after a game against the St. Louis Blues, he was caught in an East St. Louis, Illinois motel with a prostitute and crack cocaine. After this event, Stevens entered the NHL Substance Abuse Program.

After being released from the program, he played a brief stint with the Philadelphia Flyers before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a second time. After one decent season and another season where he rarely received playing time, he retired from the NHL in 2002.

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