Ryan Flink and Tad Cannon are staging Brighton High School hockey reunions again, meeting to watch the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL playoffs.
Whatever credit anyone will give them for Trevor Lewis’ development, they’ll gladly take.
They like to describe him as their “little protégé,” even if it already was becoming clear during Lewis’ freshman year at Brighton that he was going places in the sport.
And here he is, skating in another improbable quest for the Stanley Cup. The Kings open the final series Wednesday vs. New York. The Salt Lake City native, whose Twitter avatar shows him holding the Cup as he rode around Rice-Eccles Stadium in August 2012, could be bringing the iconic hardware home again.
The Kings won the championship as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed that year, and what they’re doing this spring might top that. Los Angeles won Game 7 on the road in each of three series in the West, including Sunday’s 5-4 overtime victory at Chicago. If Lewis’ old Bengal buddies are getting that sense of destiny again, they’re not the only ones.
“I mean, it’s pretty unbelievable,” Flink said.
Only three former Utah high school athletes have played for two championship teams over the past 65 years, and those achievements require explanations. One of Arnie Ferrin’s titles with the Minneapolis Lakers predated the birth of the NBA. Fred Sanford helped the New York Yankees get to consecutive World Series, but he never pitched on that stage. Jim McMahon’s second Super Bowl victory came as Brett Favre’s backup in Green Bay.
The latest two-time champ could be a hockey player, a kid who grew up in a state where the sport is not sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association. The asterisk in this discussion is Lewis moved to Colorado to play for an elite-level youth team after that freshman season with Brighton’s club team, but there’s no discounting how he was nurtured in hockey in Utah — skating from the time he was 2 years old at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center, across the street from his home.
He played hockey with his father, Randy, and other adults in a rec league, and Rich Sovereen will always remember how he blended in and competed, doing the little things on the ice that now make him vital to the Kings.
In April, the team signed Lewis, 27, to a two-year, $3.05 million contract extension. Even as a fourth-line forward, he’s a valuable player for a team that’s already made NHL history with its Game 7 sequence.
This run started only after the Kings fell behind 3-0 in their first-round series with San Jose. Then, they found themselves trailing Anaheim 3-2 in the West semifinals, before Lewis extended the series with a game-wining goal.
That goal extended a nice trend for Lewis. Known as a complementary player, he has a knack for emerging in the playoffs. He posted four goals vs. San Jose and Anaheim after scoring six times in 70 regular-season games.
In 2012, Lewis contributed three goals — including two in the Cup-clinching win over New Jersey — and six assists in the playoffs, after scoring only three goals in the regular season.
“It’s good to be good when it counts,” Randy Lewis said.
Trevor Lewis is so humble that he described playing for the minor-league Utah Grizzlies as “a big honor” when he appeared in six games (three goals, six assists) during the NHL lockout in 2012-13. The previous summer, he rode in a July 24 parade in his old neighborhood, patiently signing autographs along the way.
“He’s always been a great kid, so down to earth,” said Sovereen, who witnessed that scene.
And the following month, Lewis brought home the Cup, staging a series of private and public celebrations that included more than 6,000 fans at the Maverik Center and his appearance at a University of Utah football game.
That’s hockey tradition, with each member of the winning team having custody of the Cup for one day. “That was such a crazy experience,” Flink said. “We all thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Nobody’s thinking that way now, while watching what the Kings are doing. Lewis and his teammates are coming back for more, which should mean another trip to Utah for the Stanley Cup.