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Kragthorpe: Stanley Cup winner Trevor Lewis returns to the ice with hometown Utah Grizzlies

Published December 29, 2012 11:15 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City

In August, Trevor Lewis personally delivered the Stanley Cup to the Maverik Center. That was cool, but Friday's visit was even more rewarding for his hometown fans.

This time, he brought his skates.

With the NHL's players locked out of their season, the Los Angeles Kings forward contributed a goal and an assist and earned the No. 1 star selection in the Utah Grizzlies' 4-3 shootout victory over Ontario.

Lewis finally skated in a game, almost seven months after scoring two goals in the Kings' clinching win over New Jersey in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. As opposed to a sellout crowd at the Staples Center, Lewis' return to the ice came in front of 4,131 fans. But he enjoyed it — after the first few shifts, anyway.

"The first period, I couldn't even breathe out there," said Lewis, describing himself as "very rusty."

During an introductory news conference Thursday, Grizzlies coach Kevin Colley said, "We'll kind of ease him in."

That plan changed dramatically overnight. Having practiced only once with the team, Lewis skated every shift with the No. 1 line of Brad Mills and Colin Vock, besides playing regularly on the power-play and penalty-killing units.

"I figure there's no better way to get him rolling," Colley said. "You see the kid's talent and the way he thinks the game. … We're looking forward to rolling with him in the lineup as long as the lockout still exists. He wants to get in game shape. Well, he's going to get in game shape."

Lewis intends to stay with the Grizzlies, who have home games Saturday, Monday and Wednesday, until the labor dispute is settled. If the NHL season is canceled, he'll have another decision to make.

The first Utah high school hockey product to play in the NHL, Lewis skipped the Grizzlies' level in his career trajectory. So the ex-Brighton star's home-ice appearance — which he described as "a big honor," in his usual, humble style — came as an unintended benefit of the lockout for those who have followed him since he skated at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center as a toddler.

Lewis expected to play for the Kings in an October 2008 exhibition game in West Valley City, but the team sent him to its minor-league affiliate in Manchester, N.H., a few days before the homecoming event. "I gave a lot of people grief for that; I don't think [Kings executives] realized I was from Salt Lake," he said. "That was definitely disappointing. I had a lot of people coming. Hopefully, they'll come back and see me."

The chance to perform in front of friends and relatives is part of Lewis' motivation — "More than anything, he just likes being home," said former Brighton teammate Ryan Flink — and so is the opportunity just to play hockey during a work stoppage that could hinder his career.

"I'm starting to establish myself in the NHL," Lewis said, "so to take a break, it's probably not the best thing for me."

Scheduled to earn about $750,000 this season — but going unpaid during the lockout — he's now playing in a league where an entire team payroll is $12,400 per week. But the ECHL (the hockey equivalent of Double-A baseball) offers decent competition. "It's good for Trevor; it'll keep his game sharp," longtime friend Kyle Gover said. "A lot of guys don't have that passion for the game, and they're willing to wait it out. That's definitely not Trevor."

Lewis has handled the Stanley Cup adulation "with grace," Gover said, "kind of like he always does."

That's just another reason you've got to catch this guy, while he's home.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com

Trevor Lewis file

Born • Jan. 8, 1987, in Salt Lake City

High school hockey • Brighton (as a freshman in 2001-02).

Drafted • L.A. Kings, first round (No. 17), 2006

NHL experience • 155 games over four seasons.

2011-12 statistics • Three goals, four assists in 72 regular-season games; three goals, six assists in 20 playoff games.

2011-12 salary • $750,000.