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Kevin Stevens working for Penguins at development camp

Former NHL forward won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with Pittsburgh in 1991, 1992

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Two-time Stanley Cup champion Kevin Stevens made a surprise appearance when the Pittsburgh Penguins' prospect development camp began Wednesday.

Stevens joined Penguins director of player development Mark Recchi and several assistant coaches on the ice for two prospect practices at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Recchi recommended he join the camp during a recent phone conversation.

"I love [Recchi]. We grew up together, pretty much, playing in Pittsburgh. We were roommates for a long time," Stevens said. "When he mentioned that a couple of the assistant coaches weren't going to be here for Wilkes-Barre [of the American Hockey League], he said, 'I'd love to have you come.' Once he said that, I wanted to come.

"It was one of those things where I thought it was a great opportunity to come out here. I love Pittsburgh. Anytime I can come here, see my friends and hang out with the guys, that's what it's all about."

Stevens, 52, pleaded guilty in December 2016 to a charge of conspiring to sell the painkiller oxycodone. In May, he was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Back with the Penguins until camp ends July 1, Stevens said he is in a much better place.

"I feel good now. I'm pretty happy in my life, where I'm at in my life," Stevens said. "It took a little while. I had some ups and downs. I'm here. I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to do whatever I can do to help. I'm just taking it a day at a time. I feel good, which is good for me."

Stevens played on Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux's left wing and won back-to-back championships in 1991 and 1992. Stevens, who played in Pittsburgh from 1987-1995 and 2000-02, scored 260 of his 329 NHL career goals and 555 of his 726 points with the Penguins.

Video: 1991-92 Penguins win second consecutive Stanley Cup

"When you win championships, you remember those guys," Stevens said. "You remember those teams. You remember how you did it. You remember all the close calls when you almost didn't win it."

The Penguins won another set of consecutive championships the past two seasons, and will look to become the first team to three-peat since the New York Islanders won four straight championships from 1980 to 1983.

Stevens admitted he began to expect a longer run following the Penguins' first two championships; they lost to the Islanders in seven games in the second round of the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Sometimes when you get those opportunities, you get spoiled," Stevens said. "You think you're going to have them all the time and we never got them again. I never got them again. ... It goes quick. It's been a long time, but it feels like yesterday."

Before reflecting on his time in Pittsburgh, which he called his second home with his hometown of Boston coming first, Stevens gave a rough evaluation of the Penguins prospects.

"They skate pretty fast," he said. "I know that much."

Stevens said he wanted to take the opportunity to help mold the future Penguins as much as he could in the next few days.

"Basically, it's just about those guys getting here and adapting to kind of like a pro type of practice and the pro style," Stevens said. "They're out there at a fast pace and learning the game, and the pro game. It gives them all the opportunity to see what this organization is all about."

It was just one day of practice, but Stevens enjoyed donning the tracksuit. The experience could increase his desire to return to hockey in some capacity.

"My life, I know it can be good and I'd love to work in hockey," Stevens said. "I'm not sure where I'd like to work in hockey, but it's the only thing I really know. So, it's like if I'm going to work, I better get back in hockey."

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