Neil Stevens (born in 1947) is a Canadian sportswriter who has covered numerous sports, including ice hockey, indoor lacrosse, the Olympic Games, and figure skating. He received his first newspaper job in 1970, having previously played lacrosse, and in 1974 began working for the Canadian Press. Stevens has been honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame and National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame.
Early life and lacrosse career
Stevens was raised in Port Dalhousie, Ontario, and began playing lacrosse at the age of five. At 16, his midget team won the Ontario championship, though Stevens, a center, missed the deciding game of the finals due to injury. He then played three seasons for the St. Catharines Lakesides junior team, and was named an All-Star by the Ontario Lacrosse Association once. Stevens joined the professional St. Catharines Golden Hawks in 1969; National Hockey League (NHL) goaltender Doug Favell was one of his teammates. Late in the season, his playing time was affected by the arrival of Rick Dudley, who later was a National Lacrosse League All-Star and NHL player and head coach; Stevens said that Dudley "got into the games instead of me."
He attended Ryerson University briefly before ending up at Niagara College, where he was given his first job as a sports reporter by the Peterborough Examiner in 1970. At the age of 23, Stevens ended his lacrosse career due to a lack of time caused by his job at the Examiner. Stevens travelled for the first time as a reporter in 1971, when he provided coverage of the Minto Cup junior lacrosse event. Following two years with the Examiner, he was fired for being critical of the sports editor to the managing editor. A few months later, he began working for the Sudbury Star, where he stayed for two years. In 1974, Stevens was hired by the Canadian Press. having gained its notice for writing about an inquiry. Stevens spent his early years at the agency covering news, and in 1979 was moved to sportswriting. He covered ice hockey starting in the 1980s, providing coverage of three Stanley Cup Finals in the decade and annually starting in 1991. Stevens also served as a beat reporter on the Toronto Maple Leafs. In addition to the NHL, Stevens reported on numerous international tournaments, including the World Cup of Hockey twice, the Canada Cup four times, and the Ice Hockey World Championships four times.
In 1998, the National Lacrosse League added a Canadian team, the Ontario Raiders. At the time, the Canadian Press did not cover the sport. Stevens recommended to the agency's sports editor that the league be reported on, and he was made the first Canadian Press lacrosse writer. He covered the Raiders and their successors, the Toronto Rock. Stevens provided coverage of other sports as well; among them were the Olympic Games (which he covered eight times) and figure skating (22 world championships). On March 1, 2008, he retired from full-time work at the Canadian Press. However, he remained an active freelance writer and reporter for the Rock's games. Stevens served as a media contact for Canada's national men's lacrosse team during the 2010 World Lacrosse Championship in Manchester, England, and covered the 2011 FIL World Indoor Lacrosse Championship in Prague. More recently, he has written a novel and maintains an interest in music.
Multiple sports halls of fame have given Stevens honours for his work. In 2008, the National Lacrosse League Hall of Fame recognized him. That same year, the Hockey Hall of Fame presented Stevens with the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, presented annually to a sportswriter chosen by the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Canadian and American writers had given him a nomination before he was selected. In addition, the St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame inducted Stevens, also in 2008. He joined two members of his family in that hall of fame; Stevens' uncle, Ken Croft, was also honoured in 2008, and his father, John, was a previous inductee.
- Borrelli, Tom (February 20, 2008). "Borrelli: Finally, A Cheer from the Press Box". Lacrosse Magazine. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
- Puchalski, Bernie. "Eyewitness to history; Neil Stevens covered some of Canada's biggest sporting events in his career". St. Catharines Standard. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
- "Neil Stevens' acceptance speech for the Elmer Ferguson Award". Canadian Press. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- "Retired Canadian Press reporter Stevens to be honoured by Hockey Hall of Fame". The Hockey News. Canadian Press. May 29, 2008. Retrieved April 12, 2011.
- Hornby, Lance (March 12, 2008). "Shot-happy Leafs". Slam! Sports. Retrieved April 14, 2011.
- "Canada Beats Australia 19–5 to Improve to 3–0" (Press release). Major League Lacrosse. July 18, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "Canada, USA & Iroquois All Open With Wins". National Lacrosse League. May 21, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "Stevens pens fun, personal fantasy memoir: The PHWA lifetime member shares love for music, personal experience in latest novel". Professional Hockey Writers' Association. March 17, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2015.
- "Neil Stevens enters lacrosse hall of fame". The Peterborough Examiner. Retrieved April 13, 2011.
- "Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award Winners". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 13, 2011.