Friday, March 24, 2017

1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins Kevin Stevens Jersey

Left winger Kevin Stevens began his road to the NHL when he was drafted out of high school during the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings. After being drafted, Stevens would hone his skills with the Boston College Eagles beginning with the 1983-84 season. He would play four seasons for the Eagles, highlighted by a 35 goal, 70 point season in 39 games during his senior season of 1986-87 while serving as team captain.

Following his graduation from BC, Stevens would suit up for the United States at the 1987 World Championships, scoring a goal and an assist in 8 games.

He then played a full schedule of games for the United States National Team in preparation for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. In the 44 games he played prior to the Olympics, Stevens scored at a point per game clip, scoring 22 goals and 45 points. During the six games of the Olympics, Stevens scored once and had four assists.

!988 US Olympic hockey team
The 1988 United States Olympic hockey team

Once the Olympics concluded, Stevens made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had acquired his rights from the Kings a mere three months after they had drafted him back in 1983. He would play in 16 games that season, scoring 5 times.

Stevens Penguins 9
Kevin Stevens made his NHL debut following the 1988 Olympics

He would begin the 1988-89 season developing his game with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League, scoring 24 goals and 65 points with 113 penalty minutes in 45 games in the minors. Stevens was called up by Pittsburgh and saw action in 24 games with the parent club that season, scoring a dozen goals. He also got his first playoff experience that year, scoring 3 goals and 10 points in 11 games.

Now a full-time NHLer, he would play in 76 games in 1989-90, just missing out on the 30 goal plateau with 29. His 41 assists gave him 70 total points and was a physical presence on the ice, amassing 171 penalty minutes as well. With the Penguins missing out on the playoffs in 1990, Stevens played in his second World Championships for the United States, scoring 5 goals and 7 points in 10 games to lead the Americans in scoring.

His offensive numbers continued to rise, as he scored an even 40 goals in 1990-91 while adding 46 assists for 86 points while benefitting from playing with superstar center Mario Lemieux. The Penguins went on a long playoff run, defeating the New Jersey Devils in 7, the Washington Capitals in 5, the Boston Bruins in 6 and then finally capturing the franchise's first Stanley Cup in a six game series with the Minnesota North Stars. Stevens played in all 24 playoff games, scoring 17 goals and 33 points, which was third on the team behind Lemieux and Mark Recchi.

Stevens Penguins 5
Stevens and the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 1990-91

Full of confidence after his 40 goal season and Stanley Cup championship the previous season while playing with arguably the best player in the game during the 1991-92 season, as Lemieux would lead the NHL in scoring, Stevens raised his game to another level. He was named as an assistant captain for the Penguins and proceeded to score 54 goals and 69 assists for 123 points, which included becoming the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals and 200 penalty minutes in a single season on this date in 1992 when he scored his 50th goal of the season on the road against the Detroit Red Wings. He would finish with 254 penalty minutes and second in goals in the league and second overall in points to Lemieux - and notably ahead of Wayne Gretzky, something only two others had accomplished to that point.

His 123 points also set the record for the most points in a single season by an American-born player as well as the single season record for a left wing.

The Penguins would defend their Stanley Cup championship by outlasting the Washington Capitals in 7 games, defeating the New York Rangers in 6 and then marching through the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks with a pair of four game sweeps. In 21 games that postseason, Stevens scored 13 goals and 28 points.

Stevens Penguins 6
Stevens won his second Stanley Cup in 1992

Stevens offensive output continued in 1992-93 as he set a career high with 55 goals, matching that with 56 assists for 111 points.

Stevens Penguins 2
Stevens set a career high with 55 goals in 1992-93

In 1993-94, Stevens was hurt by the limited play of Lemieux, who only saw action in 22 games. Stevens still scored 41 goals, his fourth straight season of 40 or more, but his 88 points in 83 games were a decline from the lofty heights of the previous two seasons. Lemieux sat out the entire 1994-95 season while Stevens only played in 27 in a lockout shortened 48 game season, but it was at a point per game average when he was healthy.

That summer Stevens was traded to Boston with Shawn McEachern for Glenn Murray, Bryan Smolinski and a 3rd round draft pick. Stevens would score 10 goals and 23 points in 41 games for the Bruins only to be traded to the Kings just after the New Year for Rick Tocchet. He was limited to just 20 games for Los Angeles, scoring just 3 goals in 10 assists in 1995-96.

Stevens Kings BK
Stevens in the Kings short-lived "Burger King" alternate jersey

The highlight of his season was returning to the World Championships for the US, leading the team in scoring with 4 goals and 7 points in 10 games on his way to earning a bronze medal, the first medal for the Americans in 34 years.

He was back with the Kings for the 1996-97 season, but was unable to capture his previous scoring touch, with 14 goals and 34 points.

The Kings traded Stevens during the off season to the Rangers for Luc Robitaille. He had two 40 point seasons while playing in 80  in 1997-98 and 81 games in 1998-99, which included scoring 23 goals.

His career was derailed by personal problems in 1999-00 which cut his season off at 38 games and led to him entering the NHL Substance Abuse Program.

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Stevens spent three years with the Rangers

Stevens was given a second chance by the Philadelphia Flyers, who signed him as a free agent for the 2000-01 season. He disappointed with just 2 goals and 7 assists in 23 games and was traded by the Flyers in January to his original club, the Penguins, the location of this greatest successes.

Over the remainder of the season, he played in 32 games, scoring 23 points and added another 6 in 17 playoff games. He returned to Pittsburgh for the 2001-02 season, but did not entirely into the Penguins game plan and was limited to 32 games, but scored just one goal and 5 points before he retired.

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Stevens finished his career where it started in Pittsburgh

His final NHL totals are 874 games played with 329 goals and 397 assists for 726 points, NHL All-Star games in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and two Stanley Cups.

Unfortunately, Stevens off ice problems were not over, and in May of 2016 he was charged with possession with intent to distribute the drug oxycodone. In a statement by his lawyer, Stevens pleaded guilty in December of 2016 to put the charges behind him and move on with his life, adding Stevens has been battling addiction to painkillers for many years, dating back to his playing days which was made worse a serious concussion he sustained near the end of his career as well as injuries to his neck from a car accident following his career. He added that Stevens has been clean and sober for many months now and is committed to beating his addiction. His sentencing is scheduled for March 28th, four days from now.

Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins Kevin Stevens jersey as worn during the season he set a career high with 123 as he finished second overall in league scoring. Additionally, that season he became the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals while serving 200 penalty minutes. His 123 points that season also made him the highest scoring American-born player ever and as well as setting the single season record for left wingers.

The Penguins adopted their gold and black color scheme in the middle of the 1979-80 season, matching not only the colors of the flag of Pittsburgh, but also the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL and Pittsburgh Pirates of the MLB, both of which had recently won championships.

After starting out with a traditional pairing of white at home and black on the road, the Penguins added a yellow third jersey for 1981-82 and 1982-83. For the 1983-84 season, the white jersey was shelved for a season before being brought back for the 1984-85 season when the yellow jersey was dropped entirely.

This jersey style continued through their back-to-back championships in 1990-91 and 1991-92 until being replaced despite having been worn for two consecutive championships.

The Penguins 1991-92 jerseys are among a select group of NHL jerseys with three patches. The team began the season with the NHL 75th Anniversary patch on the upper right chest and the similarly styled Penguins 25th Anniversary patch on the upper right arm. During the season the team added a memorial patch for their former head coach "Badger" Bob Johnson to the upper left arm.

The jersey evolved when the Penguins made the Stanley Cup Finals, as the finals patch was added to the right chest, which was sewn to an oddly shaped piece of jersey fabric, which was then sewn over the NHL 75th Anniversary patch, which some would argue makes it a four patch jersey.

Finally, a jersey with either Lemieux's captain's "C" or Stevens or John Tonelli with an assistant captain's "A" on the left chest makes this the pinnacle of NHL jerseys. One look at it let's you know that this is a jersey with a story to tell, not unlike the heraldry of a medieval coat of arms.

Pittsburgh Penguins 1991-92 F jersey
Pittsburgh Penguins 1991-92 B jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins Kevin Stevens jersey as worn during the season he set a career high with 55 goals.

After winning two Stanley Cups in their skating penguin logo jerseys, the Penguins inexplicably changed jerseys for the 1992-93 season. While the jerseys were striking, the timing was certainly questionable.

A new, modern penguin logo was created for the home white jersey and repeated again on the road black jersey as the secondary shoulder logos. The front cresting was the classic hockey diagonal lettering, previously worn on the Penguins original 1967-68 jerseys, a wonderful mix of retro and modern.

The white jersey lasted through the the 2001-02 season, outlasting the black jersey which gave way to the team's third jersey in 1997-98, which had been Pittsburgh's alternate since 1995-96.

Pittsburgh Penguins 1993-94 F jersey
Pittsburgh Penguins 1993-94 B jersey

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a  1993 NHL All-Star Kevin Stevens jersey. The NHL first wore this attractive style in 1989 and continued to use it through the 1993 edition, save for 1992 when throwback jerseys were worn for the NHL's 75th Anniversary season.

There were some changes in customizing of these jerseys, as both the home white and road blacks were worn with orange numbers, trimmed in either white or black opposite the jersey color, for the first three years. When it was brought back in 1993, the colors of the numbers were changed to black on the white jerseys and white on the black jerseys with the numbers now trimmed in orange on both styles.

NHL All-Star 1993 F jersey
NHL All-Star 1993 B jersey

In today's video section, Stevens scores in overtime against Washington during the 1991 playoffs.

Next, Stevens lights up the Bruins for 4 goals during the 1992 playoffs.

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