Jun 4, 2024

1.pngBy Andrew Mossbrooks | @Mossbrooks48


Rochester Americans icon Don Stevens doesn’t miss a beat. His witty charm heard by thousands of Amerks fans for parts of four decades is just as prevalent off-air as it is when his microphone is live.


Don has an answer for so many questions. Ask him a simple “what’s up, Don” and he’ll follow with “The clouds, taxes, and cost of living.” If you ask him how he’s feeling, he’ll almost certainly reply saying “with my hands.”


Another question Stevens often gets is how many games he has broadcast.


“So many people over the years have been asking me time in and time out ‘how many games have you done?’ A few years ago, I tried to figure out total number of games, and I sort of stopped counting at 5,000 in my overall career, but I did have a pretty accurate number as far as the average concerned. I've kept score books, which has the number of games in it, so I've kept an accurate record of that in Rochester.”


And so, Stevens did the math, and it just so happens that Game 5 of the 2024 North Division Semifinals between Syracuse and Rochester was his remarkable 3,250th Amerks broadcast.


Stevens’ scorebooks reside in a drawer beside his desk. Each and every one of those 3,250 games dating back to his rookie season in 1986-87 are penned on paper by the icon himself. Names like Jody Gage, Gates Orlando, Ken Priestlay, Don Biggs, Craig Charron, Martin Biron, Jason Pominville, Ryan Miller, and countless others are just pages apart in a desk drawer filled with history.


Again, Stevens has answers for so many questions, but there is one he can’t quantify. That would be the total number of awards received in his long and illustrious career.



On Tuesday, June 11, Stevens will be the recipient of the Gary Smith and George Beahon Sports Media Excellence Award. It’s all part of Rochester’s Press-Radio Club Celebration of Champions. Stevens has called countless hat tricks from Amerks past and present, but this time, it is he who will celebrate a trio, earning the prestigious award, which pays homage to two local icons in Rochester’s broadcasting history, for a third time in his career.


“I've just been so fortunate over the years that people have liked what I've done,” said Stevens. “I'm just really surprised that at this age and as long a career as I’ve had that I'm still getting awards. I don't think I'm nearly the broadcaster that I used to be when I was half my age.”


Stevens’ self-deprecating humor comes to no surprise from those who have learned to know the man often referred to by his peers as the “Dean of AHL broadcasters.” Despite the three Sports Media Excellence awards, his Amerks Hall of Fame Induction, and even getting the Blue Cross Arena Press Box named in his honor, Stevens has taken a humble approach, insistent that it’s always been about the team on the ice, not the voice in the booth.


“It's embarrassing because I don't really feel like I've done anything to deserve those awards. Like, going into the Hall of Fame, people were congratulating me on going in the Hall of Fame and I say, well, you know what I really do, I don't think should be in the Hall of Fame. I should just be in the hall of longevity. I think that's more apropos.”


To known knowledge, there is not a hall of longevity in existence, but if there were, it would be hard to argue Stevens shouldn’t have a place in that, too. The 2024-25 season will be the 39th of his remarkable career with the Amerks. In that time, he has rarely missed a game. His longevity, and motivation behind it, doesn’t stem from pay, awards, or even the game of hockey itself anymore.


“I think what means more now is the association with people. It’s much more meaningful than awards. The awards, I think, just demonstrate that I'm still in the right place, hopefully doing the right thing at the right time. But the people mean so much to me, and this organization has been such an amazing place to work.”


The value of relationships became abundantly clear to Stevens, like many of us, in 2020. With the world shut down, Stevens was relegated to couch duty. The Hall of Fame voice didn’t want to risk his health in uncertain times.


“I filled the (gas) tank one time,” he laughed. “One time in a year.”


In that year-span, Stevens only ventured out of his home to go to the grocery store.


“The store’s a mile away and that's it. There were a few times I even walked to the grocery store rather than drive. I sat in my recliner pretty much most of the time.”


Going through a global pandemic saw Stevens gain an even greater appreciation for what he does. The average retirement age in the United States is 62. The Amerks Hall of Famer just celebrated his 76th birthday last month.


“I always thought I wanted to retire early and retire as early as I could. But then COVID hit, and I sat on my rear end for a year and figured out, ‘well, wait a minute now, this is what retirement's like?’ I didn't like it. The inactivity is not good. I want to be doing something and so, rather than just having a hobby or something, I'd much rather be doing something meaningful and being a participant in a team sport or something like that.”


Plans change. A younger Don Stevens would have thought his broadcast career would’ve been long over by now. He also wouldn’t have been able to forecast how long he’d go on to call Rochester home.


“When I first told my wife we were moving to Rochester, New York, she said, well, how long are we going to be there? I said two years, max.”


Now, some 38 years later, Stevens still patrols the halls of Blue Cross Arena. What was once viewed as a short-term residence has become a long-term home for the decorated sportscaster from Alberta.


Things look a little different from when Stevens first stepped into town in the fall of ’86. The game, the arena, and the players have all gone through cosmetic makeovers since his time as an Amerk started, but in a league full of seamlessly never-ending change, Don Stevens has been the constant model for consistency of the American Hockey League and the Rochester Americans.

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