This story originally ran in The Cincinnati Enquirer on May 10, 2018
Other than the grounds crew sweeping puddles from the thawing ice, U.S. Bank Arena sat quietly three days after the Cincinnati Cyclones’ first-round playoff exit.
The only noticeable commotion was inside the tunnel to the locker room, where players arrived for their end-of-season exit interviews and exited both the arena and the 2017-18 season with their hockey bags around their shoulder.
Among them was Devante Stephens, a 21-year-old defenseman who just finished his first season of professional hockey and his entry-level contract.
“It was good,” Stephens said April 25 of his rookie year. “It wasn’t what I planned out because I was injured for a lot of it. But when I was playing, it was my first year as a pro and a good development year for me.”
For Stephens, it was a year of movement.
After his exit interview, he had a 2,500-mile, 38-hour drive home to Vancouver, Canada. Throughout the season, constant call-ups to the Rochester Americans in the American Hockey League meant the defensemen often felt like he couldn’t unpack before another call to go play in another city.
“I’m literally a living suitcase,” he said with a smile. (continue reading here)