Forward Luke Stevens ’20 will continue his hockey career after signing a one-year deal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins –– the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, the Penguins are not just some team for the Stevens family. Kevin Stevens, Luke’s father, was a force to be reckoned with during his days in the professional league, and won back-to-back Stanley Cup championship trophies with the team in 1991 and 1992.
The Yale graduate, who was originally selected in the 5th round of the 2015 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, established himself as a key player and top scorer for the Bulldogs. Stevens raked in 35 points across his 101 games with the Blue and White. After declining an offer from the Hurricanes and becoming a free agent on August 15, the Massachusetts native decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and advance his professional career with the Penguins organization.
“My whole family basically grew up in the organization,” Luke said. “I’ve got pretty good memories of my brother and I running around the locker room [in Pittsburgh] when we were little, just causing havoc … You see all these pictures of us in little Penguins uniforms around the rink, so it’s pretty funny to see how things come full circle. We are really excited to get things going, and I think it’s just a great fit overall for me.”
After COVID-19 forced a premature end of the 2020 collegiate season on March 13, Luke leaned heavily on his dad for guidance when navigating the process of going pro.
Kevin Stevens currently works for the Pittsburgh Penguins as a special assignment scout and has been with the organization on and off since 1987. In 2002, Kevin retired as a player after his second stint with the Penguins. He rejoined the organization off the ice as a talent scout in 2005.
Kevin said he is extremely proud of Luke’s decision to sign with the Penguins and expressed his wholehearted belief in the strength of the organization.
“I kinda know the whole system, how we work and how the people work,” Kevin said. “I know it’s the best organization, and I know if you play well, you’re going to get an opportunity … We develop kids, and it’s a great opportunity for him to get in there and play.”
Kevin graduated from Boston College in 1987 and immediately became a star forward for the Penguins. He outscored Wayne Gretsky in the 1991–92 season by two points, becoming only the third player to do so in the regular season. He would go on to play a total of 522 games with the team.
While the Yale graduate is off to the pros with his father at his side, Ryan Stevens ’24, Luke’s younger brother, begins a similar chapter of his own as a new forward for the Yale men’s hockey team.
Though the younger Stevens scouted several schools, he ultimately landed on Yale because of its academic and athletic prowess as well as his older brother’s positive experience with the program.
“I was talking to some schools after my sophomore year of high school,” Ryan said. “Then Yale reached out to me, and I was pretty excited about that because it’s one of the best universities in the world, the hockey team is really good, my brother was there at the moment, and he was loving it.”
As for Ryan’s future plans, following in his dad and older brother’s footsteps by going pro would be “the dream.”
Ryan expressed a similar sentiment toward the Pittsburgh Penguins as his brother, adding that while his dad definitely helped with the decision, he believed that Luke “wanted to be [there] all along.”
While the future remains uncertain for Bulldog hockey this academic year, Luke is certain that Ryan will thrive in the environment and is excited about the possibility of coming back to New Haven to watch his brother and former teammates play at Ingalls Rink.
Though Luke’s immediate future is also hazy, as the timeline for training with the AHL team is unclear, the 2020 Yale graduate believes that the Penguins organization will ultimately prepare him as best as possible for his next steps as a player.
“In our opinion, it was the best fit for me to develop and reach my goal of playing in the National Hockey League,” Stevens said. “After talking to management over there and guys involved in the organization, we are excited to get things going.”
Margaret Hedeman | firstname.lastname@example.org