Montréal Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty has been on a tear lately, which may have something to do with playing with offensive genius Alexander Radulov and perhaps also with Team USA head coach John Tortorella singling him out during the World Cup. Or perhaps he has finally found the maturity to be able to lead an NHL team.
Whatever the reason, though, Pacioretty has now elevated his game to that of a big-time player, no longer a 30-goal scorer specializing in scoring hat tricks in 6-3 losses but an actual difference maker.
That's a pretty long detour to come back to Turner Stevenson, isn't it?
Pacioretty was a 22th overall pick in 2007, thought to be a power forward in the making; Stevenson was drafted 12th overall in 1990, with similar aspirations.
Obviously, with 75 goals in 644 games, Stevenson became something other than a first-line John LeClair-type, but no one can take away his Stanley Cup (2002-03, with the New Jersey Devils), something Pacioretty still lacks; the latter does have three straight 30-goal seasons and is five removed from a fourth this year, however.
I actually thought the 2005-06 Philadelphia Flyers, coached by Ken Hitchcock and featuring Stevenson in a reduced role but also the likes of Simon Gagné, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Peter Forsberg, Joni Pitkanen, R.J. Umberger, Éric Desjardins, Derian Hatcher, Petr Nedved, Donald Brashear and an injured Keith Primeau would win it again, but unfortunately, they were brought down by Carter and Richards' lack of maturity and hard-partying ways, as well as shoddy goaltending from Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki.
And so today, reminiscing about the times when the Habs would select heavy guys from the WHL in the first round instead of American kids looking at four years of College Hockey, I have decided to feature the signed silver version of card #71 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set: