The timing couldn’t have been better for Grant Stevenson to make his NHL debut.
Not only did he score his first NHL goal, as luck would have it, the San Jose Sharks call-up had some family that were able to make the trip.
Most notably, his grandfather, Hall-of-Fame goaltender Glenn Hall, was on hand last night at the Saddledome in Calgary and had some sage advice to pass on in case Stevenson was battling butterflies.
“I remember Gordie Howe telling me when I was up — like I say, I’m a nervous individual — but he said ‘We use a puck here, too, you know,'” said Hall, who served as a goaltending consultant with the Flames from 1988 to 2000. “I thought that was good advice. I passed that on to Grant when I talked to him yesterday.”
Stevenson joined the Sharks yesterday after being called up from the AHL Cleveland Barons and was inserted into the starting lineup across the red line from Chuck Kobasew, Steven Reinprecht and Jarome Iginla.
“It was really special,” said Stevenson, who was on the ice as the national anthems were played. “I think that was the two longest anthems I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m happy I stayed on my feet, I was pretty nervous.
“It was great. My parents, my family, everyone was here so it was a special night for me.”
Hall was proud to see hear his grandson’s name called as a starter.
“When you’re a kid you really never expect to play in the National Hockey League, so it’s a little surprising,” said Mr. Goalie, who played 68 games in net for the AHL’s Indianapolis Capitals in 1951-52. “To get in the starting lineup on your first game, too, is really, really something.”
Scoring in your first game is quite an accomplishment, too.
Stevenson, who had eight goals and eight assists in 17 games for Cleveland this season, scored a minute into the third period of the 3-2 Flames victory when he swatted home a rebound that was bouncing in front of Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, another former Baron.
“I just took a swipe at it. It wasn’t the prettiest goal but I’ll take it,” said Stevenson, who finished the game with 13:09 of ice time.
“I was working hard and just trying not to make mistakes. Managed to just kind of stay safe for most of the game and got rewarded a little bit there. It was nice.”
Hall, an ironman who still holds the record for consecutive games for a goaltender with 502, was known for his nervousness as a player and often threw up before games. He will be happy to know Stevenson came close to emulating his grandfather.
“I was pretty close. I flew all morning and didn’t get much sleep last night. It was a long day of traveling, I definitely was taking a lot of Rolaids and Tums during the game. I wasn’t feeling so well.”
But he was feeling pretty good afterward.