Kevin Stevens is back with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
No, he’s not going to don a sweater bearing his No. 25. He won’t take a single shift on the ice. He is, however, scouring New England for hockey prospects.
The Penguins tabbed Stevens to join their scouting staff on Sept. 2 and he couldn’t be more excited to re-join the club he helped guide to consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and ’92.
“I am looking forward to it. It’s good to get back into hockey and to be here. I like the atmosphere; I like this part of it,” he said. “Pittsburgh is where I want to be. I have a lot of friends here. Obviously, Mario [Lemieux] is here and [Mark] Recchi. A lot of guys I know. It’s good; it’s a good place for me. I am happy here and I like the organization.”
The former Penguins left winger’s impressive resume should benefit his scouting duties. He ranks fifth on Pittsburgh’s all-time goals list with 260, sixth all-time in points (555) and seventh all-time in assists with 295. He is the organization’s leader in penalty minutes (1,048) and ranks third in club history in power-play goals (110) and fourth in game-winning goals (27). Stevens, a former three-time NHL all-star (1991, ’92, ’93) holds the Penguins’ single-season record in goals, assists and points by a left winger.
“I am one of those guys who enjoys hockey. I like to watch it,” he said. “Sometimes guys that are done playing don’t really enjoy watching the game. They kind of get sick of it. But, I enjoy watching it. I like it. We’ll see what happens. It will be fun.”
Stevens, who lives outside of Boston, will be in charge of scouring the talent-rich New England region.
“There’s a lot of American Hockey League teams around there. I’m seeing a lot of hockey games,” Stevens said. “I do mostly pro games, but there’s a lot of colleges there. When the Bruins are in town, I go there, too. I have seen a lot of good games and a lot of good players.”
Stevens is happy to see hockey fever sweep over Pittsburgh – similar to the hysteria associated with the team in the early 1990s.
“It’s good to see. It’s such a great town. It’s a great sports city – for hockey it’s phenomenal,” he said. “It was kind of down to see a lot of empty seats here the past few years, but I think it’ll be back this year. The spirit will be back. All I can remember is the early 1990s and you couldn’t move around here. It was great.”
The NHL instituted a bevy of rules changes this year geared to boost offensive production in a league that saw goals decrease substantially over the past decade. Stevens is happy with how it has changed the game.
“I think it’s great for the game. Obviously, it’s opened up the game,” he said. “No red line is great. You see a lot more skating, a lot more play in the neutral zone. You can’t set up that trap to take away the middle of the ice. I think it’s fun.”
Stevens played seven years with the Penguins (1988-89 through 1994-95). He played with the Bruins, Kings, Rangers and Flyers before returning to the Penguins in 2000-01. He retired from the NHL following the 2002 campaign with the Penguins. He racked up 726 career points (329+397) with 1,468 penalty minutes in 15 seasons.
Since stepping down, he’s spent time with his wife, Suzanne, and their three children, Luke, Kylie and Ryan.
“I have done some business-type of things, but nothing really where I can wake up in the morning and love to say, ‘Let’s go to work,’” he said. “I have three little kids I have been busy with. I have been coaching their baseball and hockey teams and it’s been a lot of fun. But, you still need something to do and I am lucky I get to come back here and do this.”
In addition, Stevens helped evaluate talent during the Penguins’ training camp. He even coached Team Francis to the championship of Penguins’ annual training camp tournament with a 4-0 record.
Would Stevens be interested in making the transition from scout to coach one day?
“Possibly. I will just see where it goes. I will have some fun with this,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind coaching, but that’s something we’ll work out later down the line. I am just glad to get back in the game and get the opportunity to do some stuff and we’ll see what happens. I am looking forward to watching some games. This is a good fit for me.”