When news spread in January of Stevens's arrest in Collinsville, Ill., there was an outpouring of support for him from the biggest names in the sport, such as former teammates Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux. "I'm lucky," Stevens told SI last week. "I have a lot of great friends in the game."
Those friends include a trio of Flyers: veterans Mark Recchi, Ulf Samuelsson and Rick Tocchet, all of whom played with Stevens in Pittsburgh. Lemieux, the Penguins' owner and a former linemate of Stevens's, also expressed an interest in signing him, as did the Oilers.
"When I got traded to Pittsburgh [in 1992], I instantly knew where all the team's energy came from—Kevin Stevens," says Tocchet. "Mario was a quiet leader who did it on the ice, so he was ecstatic to have Kevin in the dressing room. Kevin provides all-around energy, and if you're going to win in the NHL, you have to have that."
Stevens, once the league's premier power forward, had 190 goals between 1990-91 and '93-94, but in the last six seasons he scored more than 15 only once (23, in '98-99). Philadelphia believes, however, that he can step into one of its vacancies on left wing and help strengthen the positive dressing-room chemistry that developed in the Flyers' run to the Stanley Cup semifinals last spring.
"I didn't think that I'd have all these teams calling," said Stevens. "But for each team I had interest in, there was someone on that club who knew me. They thought, He made a mistake, but everybody makes mistakes. Obviously I hate what happened, but I've got to deal with it, and I am dealing with it."
Stanley Cup in Alaska
Gomez Makes a Special Delivery
It was a homecoming for Devils center Scott Gomez last Friday when he took the Stanley Cup to Anchorage, the first time in the trophy's 107-year history that it had visited Alaska. In the afternoon the chalice was placed on a dogsled and mushed on wheels to the Delaney Park Strip, in downtown Anchorage. Before that, Gomez was honored with a traditional Native blanket toss, in which he lay down on a sealskin blanket and was hurled 20 feet in the air by Native elders. The blanket toss is an honor reserved for celebratory events. Gomez, who won the Calder Trophy and the Stanley Cup last season, met the criterion.
"It was a neat feeling," Gomez says of being propelled skyward. "You get the same feeling in your stomach that you do on a roller coaster."
Afterward the Cup was also placed on the blanket, but for display purposes only. "No, they didn't shoot it up in the air," Gomez says with a laugh. "That's how rumors get started. They just put it in there to show it off."