By Charlie Deitch
Pittsburgh Current Editor
On the ice, former Pittsburgh Penguins winger/forward Kevin Stevens was no joke.
Playing beside “The Magnificent One,” Mario Lemieux, Stevens was a vital member of the Pens’ Stanley Cup teams in 1991 and 1992. During those two Cup runs, Stevens never missed a game in the regular season or the playoffs. He was a prolific goal-scorer and in 1991, he finished as the number two scorer in the league, behind Lemieux and ahead of Wayne Gretzky.
Like I said, no joke.
However, in 1993 in a game against the New York Islanders, Stevens collided with defender Rich Pilon, knocking himself out. He then fell face-first onto the ice-breaking most of the bones in his face. The injury is significant, not just because of its severity but because of the impact, it would have on the rest of his life. Stevens was 28 years old and that year, because of his injury, he would discover two things that changed his future: opioid painkillers and cocaine.
He fell into drug addiction and all the perils that came with it: arrests, loss of family and more. But, in the end, Kevin Stevens story isn’t a tragedy. He went through recovery, got sober and now uses a new platform to help others with their addictions.
Stevens is the co-host of the Crosscheck Podcast, a show that talks about and deals with addiction but is also entertaining and features guests talking about their own battles with addiction. The show is recorded in Boston, Stevens’ hometown, but it can now be found right here in Pittsburgh as part of the Pittsburgh Current Podcast Network. While he was born in Massachusetts, Stevens says Pittsburgh is also like a home to him.
“I spent the most important part of my life in Pittsburgh,” Stevens says. “I grew up there, basically. It’s a great place, the people are fantastic; I still love Pittsburgh; I always will.”
In addition to providing a virtual Pittsburgh home to Crosscheck, the Current will also team with Stevens for local events and tapings of future shows from the Steel City.
The goal of the podcast, Stevens says, is to further the conversation about addiction by sharing his stories and the stories of others affected by the disease.
“We do the best we can to shine a light on addiction,” Steven says. “We take it seriously because it’s a life and death situation, but it’s also something I enjoy doing.”
Stevens admits, however, that it can be hard to publicly talk about his life when he was in the clutches of addiction. But it’s important to so so, he says.
“Look, doing this still helps me to stay clean and sober,” Stevens says. “I also still learn a lot from our guests and if this show can reach one person out there struggling with addiction, then it’s all worth it.”