Sunday, 5 May 2019


Great lines in the NHL come in threesomes. Some of the more memorable lines get cool nicknames like The Legion Of Doom (Lindros-Leclair-Renberg), the Crazy 8s line (Lindros-Recchi-Fedyk), the French Connection (Perreault, Martin, Robert), and the Hot Line (Hull-Hedberg-Nilsson). One of the lesser-known nicknamed lines was the Sky line in Pittsburgh consisting of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Kevin Stevens that referenced the height of the three players as none were shorter than 6'3" tall. It's no secret that the Sky line was a juggernaut on the ice with their scoring prowess, and Kevin Stevens was a major part of that scoring line.

It would be this play during the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs that saw Kevin Stevens' career take a turn for the worse.
The injury he suffered in that game saw him knocked unconscious when his head made contact with Rich Pilon's visor, and he was unable to defend himself as he fell, landing on his face and shattering most of the bones in his face. Stevens required required extensive reconstructive surgery that saw the doctors reassemble his face with the use of metal plates, and somehow Stevens would return the following season.

It was off the ice, though, where Stevens made most of his news following a 1995 trade from the Penguins to the Bruins that saw him bounce from Boston to Los Angeles to the New York Rangers where things hit rock-bottom in his playing career. On January 24, 2000, Stevens was arrested for soliciting a prostitute and possessing drug paraphernalia which would turn out to be crack cocaine.

Despite entering the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program in 2000 for rehabilitation, his problems with the law only took a turn for the worse when, in May 2016, Stevens was charged with conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute oxycodone, later confessing that he was addicted to pain-killers since 1993 following the horrific on-ice injury seen above against the New York Islanders in the playoffs.

For those that haven't seen it, Rogers Sportsnet produced a 22-minute documentary about Kevin Stevens, his recovery from his addiction, and his court-ordered community service that aired on January 13, 2018. Here is Shattered in its entirety. A quick warning: due to some of the content in this video, viewer discretion is advised.

It's hard to watch this as a Penguins fan who grew up idolizing #25 as one of the guys who could do no wrong. If there is good in this story, it's that Kevin Stevens has his life back on-track after being down in the dark for so long. Redemption isn't given to anyone - Kevin Stevens is proof of this. It's earned, and it's taken the faith and belief in Kevin from his friends and family combined with his own commitment to those friends and his family that has helped him get out of that dark to get him back on a good path. In particular, Mario Lemieux's efforts to help his friend and former teammate is quite remarkable, but it still requires Kevin to do his part. And he is.

Kevin Stevens is no hero. He'll admit this. But after going through hell and coming back, he has my respect for finding the right path for his life. Stay strong, Kevin.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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